Liverpool FC Wins Major Brokerage Lawsuit
September 18, 2020
Neither Liverpool FC nor sports betting operator BetVictor owes anything to Winlink, High Court Judge Mark Pelling QC ruled. Contrary to claims levied by Winlink, Judge Pelling ruled the link-up between BetVictor and Liverpool to have been the result of a long-term pre-existing business relationship between Raffaella Valentino, i.e. Liverpool’s at-the-time head of global partnerships sales, and BetVictor chief executive officer Andreas Meinrad.
Winlink Says It Brokered Deal
Winlink based its legal argument and claim on the premise of it having been the party responsible for the introduction of BetVictor to Liverpool FC. It also claims to have helped build and boost the relationship between the operator and the football club – which relationship Winlink says it believes to have been the catalyst leading to the 3-year-long £15 million deal eventually concluded between the two parties.
At a total value of £15 million spread out over 3 years, Liverpool benefited £5 million per season from the sponsorship deal, i.e. for the years 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19. And it’s a deal Liverpool FC informed the court to have been facilitated personally by Raffaella Valentino with BetVictor-based friend Andreas Meinrad shortly after she (Valentino) joined the club.
Winlink however claimed otherwise, saying that Liverpool FC owed it at least £1.25 million in brokering fees.
The Logic Behind The Ruling
Judge Pelling based his eventual ruling on the fact that Valentino had throughout the course of her term serving Liverpool, shared with Meinrad commercially confidential information wholly unrelated to either the club or the sports betting giant. This led Pelling to believe said information to have trickled down from Liverpool “higher-ups”, which implied an existing relationship outside of the scope and influence of Winlink or anything else the company would have had control over in terms of relationships and associations.
The FC, in turn, based its own arguments brought before Judge Pelling on the fact that Valentino during her term in Liverpool’s employment, had built up too many industry contacts and communications – all of which were already in place at the time of the deal opposite BetVictor – for the resulting sponsorship deal to have been the exclusive doing of Winlink.
Harris May Undo It All
But BetVictor’s massive victory alongside Liverpool FC aside, betting sponsorships may not even exist at all for much longer if U.K. Member of Parliament Carolyn Harris is to have her way.
Harris is currently pushing hard for a complete ban to be placed on all gambling sponsorship deals related to soccer uniforms worn by players – and has even gone as far as saying that said ban should be enforced as soon as the coming into effect of the soon-to-be-revised UK Gambling Act.
The controversial MP, who is the current chair of the all-party gambling-harm-driven parliamentary group, says she’s of the opinion that the affixing of gambling logos to football shirts are essentially helping to “normalise” gambling among children and under-age young people. And though Harris at the time of the controversial tweet added that she understood how crucial gambling sponsorships were to the survival of football clubs, she believed the safety of young people to far outweigh the monetary considerations.
Since soccer played in the United Kingdom is very much a “family environment”, Harris said she believed it only right that club sponsorships should be coming from “family-oriented” organisations instead of from gambling-pushing sports betting operators and bookmakers. She also said that the time has come for government to become more involved with clubs on a financial support level.