Thursday
Apr072011

Beatles To Heatles: LeBron, LRMR Join With FSG To Acquire Interest In Liverpool FC

By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor

April 6, 2011: Among the claims to fame of Liverpool, England, is that it was the city where The Beatles came together and began their journey into music history.

Now, LeBron James, who earlier this year referred to himself and his Miami Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as "The Heatles" will try to become part of Liverpool's history.

James and his marketing firm, Cleveland-based LRMR, have entered into an exclusive alliance with Fenway Sports Management in Boston  "to secure global marketing and sponsorship opportunities." The initial deal will see James acquire a minority interest in Liverpool Football Club of the English Premier League, one of the most storied sports franchises in the world.

Financial terms of the deals with Fenway Sports and Liverpool were not disclosed.

FSM is a division of Fenway Sports Group, whose portfolio includes the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park, Liverpool FC and Anfield Stadium, as well as 80% of New England Sports Network and 50% of Nascar's Roush Fenway Racing. Fenway Sports Group is headed by principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner.

LeBron James is adding a soccer ball to his basketball collection.Sports marketing agency LRMR, which was formed by James and friends including LRMR CEO Maverick Carter, also handles NBA all-star Chris Paul.

James' marketing presence beyond the U.S. has been built by international visits fueled by the NBA and marketing partners such as Nike, including being part of the Olympic team that won a gold medal during the 2008 Summer Games in Bejing. James is also expected to be on the roster of the U.S. team that will play in London during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

This business partnership between FSM and LRMR will be the "exclusive avenue worldwide for the pursuit of opportunities to be associated with LeBron James." FSM said it would "aggressively explore global business opportunities to drive revenue growth for LRMR and LeBron James, as well as for all the other powerful clubs and brands in the Fenway Sports Group family."

According to James, "I am thrilled to be working with John Henry and Tom Werner. These guys, like me, have a passion for sports. You can see the drive and commitment they have for their teams. For me, this is about being in business with an organization that loves sports as much as I do." 

"We believe this will be a powerful collaboration between FSM and LRMR and LeBron," Tom Werner said in a statement. "There are very few athletes who can match his global reach, appeal and iconic status."

Liverpool FC was founded in 1893 and acquired by FSM (formerly known as New England Sports Ventures) last October for a reported $571 million. The club has a uniform marketing deal with Nike rival adidas and has a jersey-front sponsorship deal with London-based financial services firm Standard Chartered that runs through 2014.

Regarding the deal with Liverpool, Werner said, "We are very excited that LeBron will be part of the Liverpool FC family. LeBron and Liverpool each has a powerful presence internationally, with particular strength in Asia. But we feel the business opportunities for both working and being identified together in emerging international markets will result in unforeseen opportunities that neither would have been able to realize alone." 

"We believe this will be a powerful collaboration between FSM and LRMR and LeBron. There are few athletes who can match his global reach, appeal and iconic status."

"This is a great partnership that will surely lead to new opportunities for everyone involved," Beatriz Perez, CMO for Coca-Cola North America, offered in a statement. "I know from personal experience how committed they all are to achieving their goals and accomplishing their objectives."

"LeBron shares our love of all sports and we are very excited to make him part of the Liverpool family," Ian Ayre, managing director of Liverpool FC, said in a statement. "We look forward to working with LeBron, LRMR and FSM, and exploring the business opportunities this new relationship could bring forth both here in the U.K. and abroad."

"Liverpool is one of the most important clubs in all of sports, and I am excited to be affiliated with this incredible organization," said James.

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