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Luis Suárez handshake row upsets Liverpool sponsors Standard Chartered

• Standard Chartered has ‘very robust conversation’ with club
• Bank pays around £20m a season to sponsor Liverpool

Liverpool’s US owners and their shirt sponsor have intervened to help defuse the race row surrounding Luis Suárez’s refusal to shake Patrice Evra’s hand before Liverpool’s defeat at Manchester United on Saturday.

Standard Chartered, which pays around £20m a season to sponsor Liverpool, went public with its criticism in a brief statement, saying: “We were very disappointed by Saturday’s incident and have discussed our concerns with the club.” A person familiar with the matter said: “It was a very robust conversation.”

Standard Chartered was attracted to Liverpool by its strong Asian support base. The bank is based in London but makes almost all its profits in Asia. Most of its staff are in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The BBC reported that the Fenway Sports Group, which bought the club in 2010 and 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, which imposed the eight-match ban, will take no action over Suárez’s refusal to shake hands because it is not a disciplinary issue.

The Liverpool striker apologised on Sunday for refusing the handshake before his team’s 2-1 loss at Old Trafford and his manager Kenny Dalglish also said sorry for his post-match reaction when challenged over the snub. Suárez was returning to the Liverpool starting lineup for the first time since serving an eight-match ban for racially abusing Evra during a match in October.

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