Culture city’s olympic boost

Sport is to be at the heart of Liverpool’s plans as European Capital of Culture 2008.

The city unveiled an action-packed sports programme today (Friday, 27 January) – backed by almost every sporting institution on Merseyside – and immediately won government praise as a major boost for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Liverpool Culture Company and Liverpool City Council, with partners across Merseyside, have combined forces to launch the UK’s biggest multi-sports deal, involving new international events, as well as initiatives to boost community sports participation.

And the strategy will kick into life the following day (Saturday, 28 January) with a new fixture – the Liverpool 08 Challenge – between Rugby League rivals – Widnes Vikings and St Helens, at Halton Stadium.

Highlights of the European Capital of Culture Sports Strategy include marketing deals such as shirt sponsorships, pitch-side advertising, regular updates and adverts in match programmes and websites to publicise 2008 with:

Tranmere Rovers FC
St Helen’s RLFC
Widnes Vikings RLFC
Waterloo RUFC
New Brighton RUFC

This deal will ensure the 08 message will be taken to tens of thousands of people in stadia across Merseyside and almost every major town and city in the UK on a weekly basis. The deal will generate millions of pounds in publicity with St Helen’s alone set to appear on TV over 20 times.

A key element of the strategy involves staging new and improving existing events, such as:

Liverpool 08 Rugby League Challenge: Widnes v St Helens, Halton Stadium, Jan 28.
European Wheelchair Basketball Cup qualifiers: Greenbank Academy, March 11-12.
Inaugural Liverpool 08 Open Squash Tournament: St George’s Hall, May 1-6. Broadcast on Sky Sports. This is a world ranking PSA Super Series Silver event – the biggest in Europe and one of the top six in the world.
Liverpool International Tennis Tournament: Calderstones Park, June 13-18. Due to increased funding, 2006 will see an extra day’s action. Final on Sky Sports.

Homecoming of the Clipper 05-06 Race: River Mersey, July 1-2. Broadcast on Transworld Sport.
Start of North West stage Cycle Tour of Great Britain: August 30: Broadcast on BBC Grandstand on September 3. Three-year deal with tour finish in 2008.

Final Grand Prix Honda Formula 4-Stroke race series: River Mersey, Sep 9-10. Scheduled for Sky Sports and Channel 4.

There are also further marketing and sponsorship deals with:

The Grand National: Aintree Racecourse – April 4-6 – Live BBC 1.
The Open Championship: Royal Liverpool – July 20-23 – Live BBC 1 & 2.
Everton FC and Liverpool FC with future proposals to develop for 2008.

Liverpool Cricket Club: Lancashire v Sussex Frizzell County Championship