Judge rules in favor of Liverpool FC in a legal dispute with Winlink
In a massive ruling, Premier League champions Liverpool FC have won a £1.1m ($1.42m) legal case against sports sponsorship firm Winlink. The sum was in regards to a £15m deal for BetVictor to sponsor the team’s training kit.
The basis for Winlink’s case was that Liverpool owed them £1.1m because one of its senior executives introduced club officials to BetVictor in 2013.
The football club’s defense was that Rafaella Valentino, head of global partnership sales, personally negotiated the deal with BetVictor CEO Andreas Meinrad.
Judge Mark Pelling QC gave his verdict remotely, declaring the deal “owed nothing” to Winlink’s introduction, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo. Discussing the reasons behind the verdict, he said that “the transaction was one that owed its genesis to the long-standing commercial relationship between Ms. Valentino and Mr. Meinrad”.
Judge Pelling further stated:
The bargain on offer in 2016 was of a completely different order of magnitude from the transactions being contemplated in 2014 and 2015 and, further, was qualitatively different as well. This was a principal global sponsorship arrangement that involved not advertising for a short period of time each match on LED hoardings, but a full spread of exposure on the training kit – but also elsewhere on pretty much everything generated by LFC other than the first team shirt.
The judge also noted that Ms. Valentino had sent Mr. Meinrad “plainly commercially confidential” information about Liverpool’s deals with its sponsor Marathonbet, which the judge said, “could only have come from senior officials within Liverpool FC.”
Email evidence proved vital in case
An earlier email to Mr. Meinrad proved that Ms. Valentino had described the offer by Liverpool to BetVictor as being “an incredible package”, adding: “You get to virtually own Liverpool Football Club.”
Further, the judgment quoted an email sent by Ms. Valentino to senior Liverpool staff after BetVictor had agreed to sponsor the club.
The email said that “BetVictor want to leave CFC (Chelsea) and partner with us“, and that “Asia and Jurgen (Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp) are big factors in switching.”
It also revealed Ms. Valentino’s concerns about Christian Purslow – Chelsea’s then managing director, who previously held the same role at Liverpool – “suing or something” over the arrangement.
During the trial, Winlink’s lawyer, Andrew Sutcliffe QC, said Winlink “spent significant time and effort in building the relationship between Liverpool and BetVictor”, and argued that “Liverpool has not kept its side of the bargain.”
However, Robert Anderson QC, Liverpool’s lawyer, argued that Winlink’s introductions “had nothing to do with the execution of the £15 million training kit deal.”
He further suggested that the club’s agreement with Winlink did not give it “the unlimited right to a commission on every deal that Liverpool ever does with BetVictor…regardless of their involvement in it.”