It's Friday, the week's almost over, and we've got an unexpectedly hefty offering of news and notes to get to, so let's get to it...
* The big news today--and it's both big and more than a little unexpected--is that Liverpool have signed a new kit deal1 that will kick in for the 2012/13 season. That means that next year's classy charcoal and silver away kit will be the club's last new offering from Adidas for the foreseeable future. It also means that Liverpool will now net £25M a year for their kit rights. This will be the largest shirt deal in the history of English football, surpassing Manchester United's current £23M per year deal with Nike and more than doubling the £12M deal the club currently has with Adidas.
As for who will be paying the club £25M per for the honour of outfitting the squad, well, it ain't gonna be Nike or Kappa or Umbro or some other maker you're even vaguely aware of. Instead it's going to be a company called Warrior. I know, "Who the hell are Warrior?" You're not the only one who wondered that.
Anyhow, Warrior is roughly the North American equivalent of Kappa or Reebok when it comes to hockey and lacrosse equipment--the odd man out that's somehow still there year after year. Aparently they really wanted to get into football and the global market that goes along with it, and as a result they were willing to pay over the odds to make a splash. This isn't great for those of us rather fond of the three stripes, but with FIFA's financial fair play rules barreling down the pipeline it's one more phenomenal bit of dealing by Ian Ayre and the marketing department that puts the club in a better place financially.
* Elsewhere, and also rather unexpectedly, Raul Meireles went and got himself the PFA Fans' player of the year award. With it he joins Gareth Bale and Jack Wilshere as PFA winners for the current EPL season, as that pair recently picked up player of the year and young player of the year awards (respectively) as voted on by the players.
We're big fans of Raul around these parts, having long ago given him the Liverpool Offside's highest honour, the Only reminder of the Purslow-Hodgson era we don't want to see loaded into a rocket and fired into the sun award. Still, to say this seems unexpected and more than a little odd would be an understatement, since an unofficial poll of one of the blog's writers came back 89.3% against him being even Liverpool's best performer on the season with a margin of error of ±6. However, the reality of the situation is that only PFA monthly honourees were eligible in the final fan vote, and as he was therefore the only eligible Liverpool player after a stunning run in February nabbed him just such an honour, there may have been some internet terrorists with little choice but to help him to victory.
In any case, he's certainly no less deserving of the award than either Bale or Wilshere were of theirs, so I'm not about to start complaining too much.
* And if you find yourself sitting around today looking for something to read, you could always go back through the archives of the Liverpool Offside. We wouldn't mind. But if you're not in the mood for that, a hefty trio of excerpts from Brian Reade's forthcoming An Epic Swindle: 44 Months With a Pair of Cowboys made their way onto the intertubes earlier this week. If you haven't already read them they're well worth the time, starting with Hick's embarrassing interview with SKY and Carragher being glad they left with nothing, then on to how Gillett thought Steven Gerrard was gay and marrying a man named Alex, and finally ending with Hicks and Gellett's attempts to replace Rafa Benitez with Jurgen Klinsmann:
“The truth is, they’re killing me,” [Benitez] said, sitting on a couch, a leather briefcase between us, from which he would pull flow-charts and dossiers to back up his arguments.
“I deal in facts. Only facts. I know they’ve talked to Jose Mourinho, Fabio Capello and Jurgen Klinsmann about my job, but what can I do...?"
“I wanted Florent Malouda last summer but Parry wouldn’t pay the signing-on fee, so he went to Chelsea. He brought in Ryan Babel and paid £2million more than we wanted to. He paid too much for Jermaine Pennant and Yossi Benayoun and made a big mistake with Javier Mascherano’s contract because he allowed him a get-out clause, which ended up costing the club more money.”
Like I said, if you haven't seen the excerpts already, they're well worth a read.
Ed will be along a little later with the Birmingham City preview, and I'm going to be busy trying to find out if anybody at Warrior is interested in paying over the odds to become the official kit supplier of the Liverpool Offside. So in the meantime, have a bit of that not-so-classic Tom Hicks airing of dirty laundry in public mentioned above, and think of how far Liverpool's come in the past six months and just how good it is that club news can once again be surprising and unexpected...
1 Yeah yeah, it's a link to the Daily Fail. That's because the story originates from The Times and they stick all their stuff behind a paywall so it can't be linked to.