Liverpool FC's growing Turkish influence - Intentional or Coincidence?
Recently we posed the question whether Liverpool's growing ties with Turkey was intentional or coincidental.
Liverpool FC are undoubtedly one of the most successful clubs in English, European and World football. The Reds have an illustrious history, winning 18 league titles, eight FA Cups and eleven European trophies.
Liverpool have won more European titles than any other English club and only Manchester United have won the league on more occasions. Liverpool FC doesn't really need a long introduction, the Merseyside club are internationally renowned and have tens of millions of fans worldwide.
Istanbul is a memorable place for most Liverpool fans following one of the most dramatic Champions League finals in recent years. Liverpool came back from three goals behind to defeat AC Milan on penalties to lift the 2005 Champions League title.
The European success helped increase the Reds following in Turkey and build upon the previous generation’s familiarity with the club stemming from the heyday of Liverpool's European Cup glory during the 70's and 80's.
The 2005 Champions League final being played in Istanbul coincidental as it was paved the way for the Reds to tap into the rapidly developing and expanding Turkish market.
Liverpool have actively sought to build upon their Turkish connection and it's clear that the club has an active geo-strategic vision in place to target different regions across the world.
This vision was perhaps best highlighted today when Liverpool announced a partnership deal with Turkish betting company Misli.com.
The Reds added Misli.com to their existing world-wide betting partnership network which including Paddy Power for the UK, Ireland and Italy and 188BET for the international market.
Turkey is an emerging economic power, bordering Europe and literally bridges East and West. The country is currently the 16th largest economy in the world and is on course to enter the top 10 by 2013.
The population of Turkey is the youngest in Europe (UEFA) 40 per-cent of the 75 million population is under the age of 22 and the most popular sport in the country is football which enjoys a fanatical following.
In contrast to the current Eurozone crisis and bleak economic outlook being experienced in many regions of the world it's no surprise to see a lot of investment being pumped in to the country.
Footballing wise it's a similar story, clubs are becoming more organized, professional and there is now a lot more money in Turkish football to help develop infrastructure, coaching standards and youth facilities.
Liverpool through a string of projects, commercial ventures and signings have actively been increasing their presence in Turkey.
The Reds managing director Ian Ayre summed up Liverpool's growing ties with Turkey following the recent deal with Misli.com Ayre said, "Our partnership portfolio continues to expand globally through this new partnership in Turkey with Misli.com.
"All football fans know that Liverpool FC has a special connection with Turkey, especially since our Champions League win in Istanbul back in 2005.
"We recently completed a TV series in Turkey called Soccer Prince which has enhanced our profile in the country and our partnerships with Turkey Tourism and Ramsey demonstrate the value that we're delivering to organisations in Turkey.
"When you mix all of those ingredients together, alongside the exciting promotions we plan to run with Misli.com, the signs look good for a successful partnership."
The Reds announced a new two-year partnership with the Turkish Tourism board last year, a mutually beneficial project promoting Turkey in the North-West and Liverpool across Turkey.
Ayre described the project by saying, “Through this partnership the Club can provide Turkish Tourism with significant brand visibility and access to our supporter base to help raise awareness of their tourism opportunities.”
Tolga Tuyluoglu, director of the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office in London also released a statement with the usual dignitaries expected when a partnership of these sorts takes place however, an interesting note from his speech was when he said, "Over one quarter of those taking package-holidays to Turkey do so from the North West of England so this area is very important to Turkey. Of course, the fact that Liverpool FC plays in red and white is a bonus too!"
Around the same time Liverpool also embarked on taking a lead role in the Turkish reality programme, Futbol Prensi (Football Prince). The show was setup to give one 14-16 year old prospect a once in a lifetime opportunity to join the Liverpool FC academy, train with the club for a year, receive an education and have the possibility of making his stay permanent.
The show was broadcast on state television channel, TRT, to millions of viewers. Thousands of young players from fifteen regions across Turkey participated in the competition for a place in the final. During my travels in Turkey this summer, I couldn't help but notice that in nearly every major shopping centre I encountered a bright red Liverpool badge on the front of some very stylish looking suits.
This was of course due to Liverpool's recent three-year clothing sponsorship agreement Turkish clothing company Ramsey. Ramsey have designed tailored suits for Liverpool players and staff including the outfits worn ahead of last season’s FA Cup Final against Chelsea.
The Turkish connection expanded further this summer with the signing of one of the biggest stars in Turkish football. Nuri Şahin was signed on a one-year loan move from Real Madrid. Şahin made history by becoming the first Turkish international to play for the Reds and was soon joined by fellow Turk, 18-year-old Samed Yeşil. Şahin has been busy breaking a few records this season, he also became the first Turkish player to score for the Reds in Europe and the Premier League.
The 24-year-old midfielder has settled in well, is close to reaching full match fitness and already has three goals and three assists in four games for his new club.
The Turkish international has also been full of praise for the club and the people of Liverpool, he recently told the press, "The manager, the team and all the people in Liverpool have done a really good job of helping me settle in and I feel very good about it."
Turkish football fans regardless of personal loyalties will be tuned in week in week out to see how Şahin does and be interested to know how Emin Altunay the winner of the Turkish Prince reality show is doing. Young Turkish players will dream of playing for Liverpool and want to be the next Şahin. Liverpudlians will have the opportunity to learn more about Turkey, travelling will be made easier as well as more attractive. And who could have forgot, Liverpool fans can go get a Ramsey suit with the clubs emblem on, talk about travelling in style!
Liverpool Football Club are in the early stages of fomenting a strong bond with Turkey, the Turkish experiment is still in it's early stages and this healthy relationship has far reaching potential both on and off the field.