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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Liverpool sponsors disappointed by Suarez affair

London: Liverpool's biggest sponsors criticized the club on Monday for their conduct during the fractious Premier League match against Manchester United that was marred by Luis Suarez's refusal to shake hands with Patrice Evra.

The image of one of England's most successful teams took another battering on Saturday when Suarez snubbed Evra in a pre-match handshake at Old Trafford, re-igniting the racism row that flared up when the Ururguay forward racially abused the France defender during a league game in October.

Suarez was returning to the Liverpool starting line-up for the first time since serving an eight-match ban for racially abusing Evra.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish also came under fire for his angry post-match reaction in which he refused to condemn Suarez.

Standard Chartered, which signed a four-year deal in 2009 to be the sponsors on Liverpool's shirt, signaled its discontent to Liverpool's American owners, the Boston-based Fenway Sports Group.

"We were very disappointed by Saturday's incident and have discussed our concerns with the club," the London-based financial services company said.

A person familiar with the matter said: "It was a very robust conversation."

Standard Chartered's deal with Liverpool, who have won the English title 18 times, is reportedly worth 20 million Pounds a season and runs through to the end of the 2013-14 season.

Suarez apologized on Sunday for letting down Liverpool and "what they stand for," with Dalglish and managing Ian Ayre saying the Uruguay striker had "misled" the club regarding his intention to shake the hand of Evra.

Dalglish also apologized for his impassioned comments in an interview with British broadcaster Sky Sports.

In an ill-tempered game between England's two most successful clubs, players from both teams reportedly clashed outside the dressing rooms at half-time. An emotional Evra also appeared to provoke Suarez with his exuberant post-match celebrations after United clinched a 2-1 win.

Liverpool's US owners and their shirt sponsors then intervened over the weekend to help defuse a race row that was damaging one of the most successful English clubs.

The BBC reported that the Fenway Sports Group, the US group that bought the club in 2010 and also owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team, had said an apology was necessary.

A spokesman for Liverpool declined to comment on the reports that pressure had been brought to bear.

The Football Association said Monday it is happy with how referee Phil Dowd dealt with Evra's actions after the match and doesn't regard the half-time incident as serious enough to take action. It also said it will take no action over Suarez's refusal to shake hands because it is not a disciplinary issue..

However, the governing body is likely to write to both clubs to remind them of their responsibilities.


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