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Irish firm loses case against Liverpool FC

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Champions: Sadio Mané wearing the 2016 training top

Champions: Sadio Mané wearing the 2016 training top

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Champions: Sadio Mané wearing the 2016 training top

A Dundalk-based sports rights intermediary, Winlink Marketing, has lost a £1.1m (€1.2m) legal claim in the UK against Liverpool Football Club after insisting that it was responsible for introducing a client to the club that resulted in a £5m-a-year sponsorship deal.

Winlink Marketing is owned by Northern Ireland-based Fintan Farrell and Sinead O'Reilly. It has operated as an intermediary for a number of years, introducing potential sponsors to professional football clubs in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

The firm claimed in the London High Court that it introduced betting firm BetVictor to Liverpool FC in 2013 after the club said it was hunting for a betting sponsor.

While BetVictor made a proposal in early 2014 to pay the club between £800,000 and £900,000 a year for three years, a deal did not materialise as Liverpool decided to remain with its existing betting sponsor.

The club told the High Court that a later deal which did emerge with BetVictor was initiated by its then head of global partnership sales, Raffaella Valentino and BetVictor chief executive Andreas Meinrad, who had a pre-existing friendship.

That deal for BetVictor to sponsor its training kit was announced by Liverpool FC in summer 2016.

A few days later, Fintan Farrell sent an email to Jonathan Kane, Liverpool's director of international business development, congratulating the club on the deal and requesting details for billing Winlink Marketing's "commission".

The Irish firm claimed in court that because it had effected an introduction to BetVictor in 2013, the 2016 sponsorship agreement was a relevant agreement under a contract that existed between Winlink Marketing and Liverpool FC.

But the judge hearing the case said that the Irish company had failed to prove that it was the catalyst for Liverpool entering the 2016 contract with BetVictor.

"It is entirely clear that the driving force for the proposal and eventual completion of the transaction were two powerful factors - first, the relationship between Ms Valentino and Mr Meinrad and secondly, the very sound commercial reasons that led BetVictor to enter into the transaction," noted Justice Mark Pelling.

Irish Independent