Liverpool FC's chief commercial officer, Billy Hogan, today emphasised the importance of reaching out to Reds fans around the world after plans for a pre-season tour of the USA was announced on Tuesday afternoon.
The club confirmed they will return to the United States for a seventh time this summer to take part in the Guinness International Champions Cup.
The competition will see them pit their wits against AC Milan, Inter Milan, Manchester City, Manchester United, Olympiacos, Real Madrid and AS Roma.
Liverpoolfc.com caught up with Hogan following the announcement to gauge the reaction to the news Stateside and to look ahead to what promises to be another whirlwind tour for the Reds.
Billy, the club have today announced they will return to North America as part of their pre-season tour. What's been the reaction from fans in the USA?
With the advent of social media and digital media, the reaction has been great. We've been able to see how our fans have reacted from our supporters clubs and through Twitter and Facebook. They're very excited and obviously our summer tours allow our fans from around the world to come and see the team in person. We expect that, not only our fans in the USA, but our fans around the globe will be very excited about the announcement today.
There was a fantastic reception for the Liverpool players back in 2012 - do you see the fan base growing all the time as football grows in popularity in America?
Absolutely. We see the numbers and how the fan base is growing. We've also just recently announced new partnerships with companies based in the USA. So I think it's an indication of not only how much football is growing in America, but also Liverpool Football Club's growth here. I live in the states and I commute back and forth to Liverpool. So I see all the great coverage that is going on within NBC, as they've picked up the television contract and there are more games on the television now than ever before and I think that's helping. Clearly the performance of the club this year is helping as well.
The club did a lot of great work in the community when it last visited. Will you be hoping to build on this great work this summer?
Absolutely. That's always a very important part of touring. Obviously the games are the central point of the tour and clearly getting the club ready for the upcoming season, but it's really important from the club's perspective that we do something while we're in each of these markets to give back. We carried out a number of events in 2012 and although we haven't announced the cities that we are going to in the summer yet, we intend to be involved in the community as well in 2014.
We saw the club enjoy a hugely successful tour of Asia and Australia last summer. How important is it to take Liverpool Football Club around the globe and bring the fans that bit closer to the team they support?
It's important. We're obviously a global club and we have hundreds of millions of fans around the world. Not everybody can get to Anfield, obviously. And so it's important from our perspective, whether it's in Asia and Australia last summer, North America the year previously and then this year too, that whenever we can, we bring the club and the first team out to play in front of our fans. It's something that is very important for the football club and very important for our fans. The reception that the club gets when it does tour is an indication of how important it is.
Liverpool will be playing in a tournament this summer with some of the biggest names in world football. Does that make the challenge all the more exciting?
Yes. I think it will be a lot of fun and I think it will be a lot of fun for the club and the fans. We'll be playing against teams who we don't normally face on a week-by-week basis. So that always makes it exciting. There are a number of really big clubs that will be a part of the tournament. I think the competition will be great and I think there will be great fan bases and supporters from all of these clubs out at these matches.
From a footballing perspective, will playing against some of the biggest names in European football be a good way to get the team in shape for the new season?
At the end of the day, the most important thing about the pre-season is getting the club ready. Clearly, Brendan Rodgers and his staff are focused, starting in July, when the players come back from their international duty or their break, on getting them ready for the upcoming season. This should be a great way to get in shape and also the facilities are tremendous, in terms of where we will be training. So it should be a great way to prepare.