Sponsor wants Liverpool to sign Asians
MANCHESTER, England -- The bank that sponsors Liverpool wants the club to bring in high-profile Asian players.
Standard Chartered executive Gavin Laws outlined his hopes for Liverpool in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, saying the bank sees great potential for the club to increase its exposure in the Asian market, where it does most of its business.
"The real power for what Liverpool could do for us, and I think for the English Premier League, is if there was a way they could nurture foreign players from Asia ... a great Asian player -- you see what Park Ji-sung does for Manchester United," Laws, the bank's head of corporate affairs, said at the SoccerEx conference.
"The markets in Asia and the Middle East are so nationalistic, they are very proud about their countries. [Matches] become huge events. One appearance from a player, say from Dubai in the Premier League, and you'd have the whole of Dubai watching it."
Liverpool is sixth in the Premier League, four points behind fifth-place Tottenham, which is in the Europa League spot and has played one fewer game.
That means the five-time European champion is currently set to miss out on competing in the more lucrative Champions League for the second successive season.
For Standard Chartered, the European competitions are of less interest than the Premier League.
"The Champions League for us as a sponsor is not that important for us," Laws said. "By the time the games are played, the major markets we are interested in, everyone is asleep and in bed."
And it's in those Asian markets where Standard Chartered wants to be selling more shirts with its brand across them.
"The market is saturated in Europe with so many clubs, how many more merchandise sales are they going to create over the next 10 years?" Laws said. "If the clubs want to do merchandise sales going at an exponential rate you've got to be in China, you've got to be in Korea, really getting all the people excited about the game."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press