Liverpool FC and Nike have formalized a new uniform contract, with the multiyear deal set to start June 1.
That should be right around the time that LeBron James, part-owner of LFC and a longtime Nike client, can start wearing a Liverpool jersey for the first time.
James has a marketing arrangement with Fenway Sports Management, which, like LFC and the Red Sox, is owned by Boston-based Fenway Sports Group. James heralded the Nike deal on his Instagram account, posting the soccer team’s coat of arms with a blank black space beside it, presumably to be filled in someday, perhaps June 1, with a Nike swoosh.
Below the post, James used the hashtag #YNWA followed by a heart emoji. “YNWA” stands for “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Liverpool’s anthem.
James hasn’t been spotted in a Liverpool jersey because until now they have featured a prominent New Balance logo on them.
Billy Hogan, Liverpool’s chief commercial officer and managing director, said in a statement, “As a brand, Nike reflects our ambitions for growth, and we look forward to working with them to bring fans new and exciting products.”
The new deal replaces the one Liverpool has had with New Balance since 2015. Like FSG, New Balance is headquartered in Boston.
New Balance took FSG to court last fall in an attempt to extend its arrangement but a London court ruled in favor of Nike. A significant factor in the court’s reasoning was that Nike could surpass New Balance’s marketing efforts by offering superior endorsement power — namely, James.
The deal is worth a reported $39 million a year, approximately $13 million a year less than New Balance guaranteed, but with the superior marketing power and higher royalties, the value to LFC is expected to far exceed what New Balance would bring in.
“Liverpool Football Club has such a proud heritage and strong identity,” said Bert Hoyt, a Nike vice president, in a statement. “The partnership with Liverpool underscores our leadership in global football, and with the club’s passionate world-wide fan base and strong legacy of success, they have a very bright future ahead.
“We look forward to partnering with them to serve players and supporters with Nike innovation and design.”
Fenway Sports Group’s principal owner is John Henry, owner of the Globe.
AS Roma sale close?
AS Roma, the Serie A soccer team owned by Boston businessman Jim Pallotta, is close to being sold to the Houston-based Friedkin Group, according to the Italian media. The estimated price tag is more than $800 million. AS Roma confirmed talks with Friedkin on its website but said “no definitive agreements” have been struck . . . The first eMLS esports match of the season took place in Philadelphia Friday, when the Revolution’s representative, John Oliveira, squared off playing FIFA in League Series One. Oliveira, also known as JKO1707, is in his third season with New England. League Series Two will take place in Portland, Ore., Feb. 15.
. . . At the end of last year, Adidas released its first signature shoe for esports star Ninja (Tyler Blevins). It’s called the “Ninja Nite Jogger,” and it sold out soon after it dropped, according to Footwear News.
VR for your ABs
Former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette is now a senior adviser at TrinityVR, a next-generation company building out a virtual-reality, virtual-training system using high-speed cameras, data bases, Oculus headsets, and batting simulators to replicate, as closely as possible, real-time matchups to aid in pitch recognition and, ultimately, batting performance . . . According to Sports Business Journal, Google is mulling a larger splash in the sports media and content arena. As of Friday, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, had a market capitalization of $985-plus billion, sufficiently sizable to make Google an immediate heavyweight contender in the marketplace . . . Gillette Stadium will host Premier Lacrosse League action, with the first three games of the seven-team league taking place May 29 and 30.
. . . Ambitious ultimate disc players can try out for the Boston Glory’s inaugural season with the American Ultimate Disc League Saturday at The Edge Sports Center in Bedford, 9 p.m.-midnight.
Spreading the word
From the intersection of sports and Catholicism comes news that the Vatican is sponsoring Vatican Athletics with an eye toward competing in a future Olympics. According to a story in The Guardian headlined “Nuns on the Run,” approximately 60 runners made up of “Swiss Guards, priests, nuns, pharmacists, and a 62-year-old professor who works in the Vatican’s Apostolic Library” are part of the inaugural group approved by the Italian Olympic Committee. The Holy See views sports as an important tool in spreading the message of principles consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
According to Vatican pharmacist/runner Michela Ciprietti in The Guardian, the team’s aim is to “promote culture and running and launch the message of solidarity and the fight against racism and violence of all types.”