Liverpool are set to go to court with New Balance over the dispute regarding their next kit contract, after reports emerged that Nike were close to completing a club-record deal.
The Reds' kit deal is set to expire in May 2020, and the club have long been courting bids from a number of suitors. Nike had emerged as the most interested, and reports of a club-record £70m-a-year deal had been mooted.
However, the Boston-based suppliers New Balance always had a 'matching clause' placed in the existing contract, meaning they had the chance to extend their rights with the club by matching any incoming bid and, according to the Athletic, they are adamant they have done so.
In the report, a Liverpool spokesman explained: “We can confirm that our kit supplier, New Balance, has commenced a legal dispute against the club. We will not be making any further comment during these legal proceedings.”
The £70m-a-year deal represents a £25m increase on the current contract, and would be a club record, coming in at just £5m behind Manchester United's Premier League-leading total with adidas, and £25m behind Barcelona's world-leading £100m deal with Nike.
However, the suppliers of that £70m fee will now be decided in court, with an official statement from the existing kit provider explaining: “New Balance is proud to be the official kit sponsor of Liverpool Football Club.
"Since 2011, when we entered into a record breaking sponsorship with the club, we have delivered two of the biggest selling home kits for Liverpool fans and we continue to match the ambition and achievements of the club as it grows from strength to strength.
“As a long standing and committed sponsor, we are keen to continue our strong partnership with Liverpool Football Club and renew our agreement in 2020. In line with our current contract, we have matched the offer made by Nike.
“As part of the contract renewal process, LFC has called into question elements of the agreement and as such we are asking the courts for clarity on this case. Both we and the club are keen to resolve any contractual challenges as quickly as possible and have agreed to an expedited process in the courts.
“New Balance is eager and confident to maintain its sponsorship of Liverpool Football Club and we look forward to continuing our record of success as LFC’s playing kit provider.”