Tuesday 28 March 2017

Anfield sponsors admit player concerns

Ian Herbert

Standard Chartered, the bank that has signed the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deal in football history with Liverpool, has sought reassurances that the conduct of players will not cause it any embarrassment.

The Bank's chief executive Peter Sands asked for undertakings from his Liverpool opposite number about the club's likely action against offending players and also had sight of the club's code of conduct before signing the £20m-a-season deal last year.

Standard's group head of corporate affairs Gavin Law insisted, in a week when England manager Fabio Capello said striker Andy Carroll should drink less, that the bank was relaxed about the £35m signing.

In a candid discussion of the bank's new relationship with the club, Mr Law also said that Standard would like Liverpool to recruit Asian players to capitalise on their involvement in that continent, where Standard have a huge market.

He also said he hoped Liverpool appoint Kenny Dalglish as manager and stated the merits of the club's owners Fenway Sports Group refurbishing Anfield rather than building a new stadium. The bank's Asian customers apparently love Anfield's quintessential football character.

Responding to Capello's comments on Carroll -- "He need to improve, to drink less" -- Dalglish yesterday insisted that the 22-year-old was perfectly capable of managing himself. "Well he's never bought me a drink. I've been with him at Boyzone concerts and he's still never bought me a drink," Dalglish joked.

"Andy Carroll knows what is required of Andy Carroll. He is the most important part of all this. (He) cannot be criticised in any way, for what he has done since he has been here."

But speaking at Manchester's Soccerex conference, Sands said the bank had been aware of the risk attached to the sponsorship deal.

"They (players) are young men and they play hard and party hard. What is important to us is that the club has the right set of responsibilities and guidelines for their players. We will never stop some players going to excess. One of the issues we had to consider what would we do if certain things happened at the club."

The return to economic growth of its markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East were vital to Standard's 19pc rise in profits and it is the success of Ji-Sung Park in promoting Manchester United's sponsors in the Far East which has whetted Standard's appetite for a Liverpool Asian player.

"We would love the club to have players of nationalities from the markets in which we operate," Mr Sands said. "They are not going to get them from all 75 but if they could sign some -- if they could get a Korean, Indian, Chinese player -- look what Park has done for United in terms of coverage in Korea.

"It can't be us dictating this. He's got to be good enough to be playing, because it's no good having someone in the reserve team." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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