Premier League Asia Trophy Hong Kong 2017

Liverpool unveil ‘bold’ and ‘toxic’ new third kit in overblown Hong Kong hotel launch as circus comes to town

The English club touch down for Premier League Asia Trophy but promotional duties prove to be just as important as playing time on the pitch

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 July, 2017, 7:09pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 July, 2017, 10:32pm

An official press release describing the design of Liverpool’s new third kit as ‘bold’ was certainly an apt choice, given the whole pizzazz that went with unveiling it.

The venue for the launch was the Ritz-Carlton Hotel’s Ozone Bar – one of the highest rooftop bars in the world atop one of the city’s most iconic buildings in West Kowloon.

So high is the bar, on the 118th floor, that ears pop in the lift on the way up the International Commerce Centre.

Two club staff members who shared the lift up were taken aback by the grand scale of the Ritz-Carlton. “It’s gonna be tough getting around here all week!” joked one.

Liverpool are staying at the luxury hotel during the Premier League Asia Trophy tournament, having touched down in Hong Kong from Manchester on Monday morning.

The circus has well and truly come to town – West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace and Leicester are also taking part but Liverpool are the clear-cut star attraction.

A mob of selfie hunters dressed in red replica Liverpool shirts faithfully stood in a cordoned-off area outside the front doors of the hotel, even when the skies turned grey and the rain lashed down.

It was all in the hope of catching another 15-second glimpse of their heroes, having been moved there by security after already swarming the players for autographs and pictures when they earlier walked through the lobby.

Juergen Klopp, ever the managerial mastermind, pulled off a genius tactical manoeuvre by swerving the commotion, taking a hard left and ducking through the lounge area towards the lifts with a wily smirk on his face as he headed off for an interview with the Post.

Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp hopeful HK$30m pitch can cope as rain batters Hong Kong ahead of Premier League Asia Trophy

It had been a much different facial expression an hour earlier – one almost of sheer panic – when he was caught up in a storm of selfie sticks. You live and learn.

With the majority of the squad heading off on a big bright red tour bus bearing the slogan “we are Liverpool” – unlike Klopp, it seems, the club are hardly trying to fly under the radar – the Liverpool manager and several star players stayed behind for promotional duties.

The showcase event was all the way up on that 118th floor, as Liverpool put on an overblown ceremony of glitz and glamour to officially launch their new third kit.

Crammed in a media bullpen in front of the stage, we waited half an hour from the original scheduled start time while a CD of Liverpool club songs mercilessly played on repeat.

When club chief executive Peter Moore eventually filed into the room, the reason for the delay became clear.

He had been downstairs at another promotional event, announcing Japanese company Falken Tire as the club’s official tyre of choice – it’s not just Manchester United and Ed Woodward who can play the sponsorship game.

Finally, Liverpool vice captain James Milner, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and forwards Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho arrived with all the fireworks of a professional wrestler’s ring entrance, strutting out to music and high-fiving fans behind the barriers on their way to the stage.

The quintet modelled the latest New Balance third kit and training kit, turning their heads from left to right to pose for pictures in perfect sync.

Liverpool mobbed by fans at Hong Kong airport ahead of Premier League Asia Trophy

In the club’s 125th anniversary year, the design inspiration for the third kit, with a special club crest, comes from the colours of the original wooden signage of the famous Kop stand at Anfield.

The official press release describes the colour of the kit as ‘Bold Citrus’.

“Normally it’s the goalkeeper who stands out the most,” said Mignolet, kitted out in a ‘Toxic Green’ goalkeeper’s jersey. “But now we’re both on the bright side.”

A New Balance spokesman said the shirt design had been 18 months in the working.

“We’ve had our designers walking around Liverpool, working with the club, taking certain things out of Anfield,” he said. “We look for a theme, something we think will sell and that the supporters will buy.”

The players weren’t just there to act as mannequins – there were a whole bunch of those down the other end of the bar, anyway, modelling Liverpool’s full range of replica jerseys.

Mignolet & Co also had to get through an awkward dual language Q & A session, and England star Lallana jumped the gun somewhat on his answer.

After being asked a question in Cantonese by the presenter, he laughed, saying “I understand” and proceeded to go straight into his pre-prepared answer anyway.

“Wherever we go, whether it’s America or Hong Kong, the fan base is huge,” said Lallana. “We’re fortunate they follow us everywhere. It’s a privilege to play for the club.”

“Do you wanna know exactly what the question is?” the presenter then asked, before the original question was translated into English. “Er, yeah, that’s what I just spoke about!” said Lallana, laughing. “But I’ll repeat it again for you ...”

The players no doubt will have been relieved to get off stage and to get down to training. Lest we forget, amid all the hullabaloo they’re here to play a couple of football matches after all.