GENERAL

Soccer Shirt Sponsorship Hits New Heights

Barcelona have recently agreed the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deal in World football. Having recently secured the 2022 World Cup, Qatar, or rather the Qatar Foundation, have agreed a £125 million, five year deal with the Spanish giants, that will see them net £25 million a year.

Barcelona have previously only displayed the UNICEF logo on their shirts, which has been free of charge. It is believed that a smaller UNICEF logo will still appear on the shirt in addition to the new advert.

Football shirt sponsorship and replica shirt sales are big business, all the top English clubs now have sponsors and the club shirt is the most popular item purchased by fans, with some clubs reporting sales of 500,000 replica shirts each year.

The financial implications for a football club can be immense, for example when Alan Shearer signed for Newcastle United in 1996, the club made £250,000 in just one day, by selling shirts with his name printed hoodies Portland on the back. LA Galaxy reported over 300,000 shirt sales in one year after signing David Beckham, which was more than three times the sales for any basketball or baseball player.

With such huge sales, clubs are now able to negotiate large sponsorship deals with leading businesses. The benefits for the sponsors are obvious, not only will their brand be on the players shirts, but also on all the replica shirts that are sold, extensive television coverage of the Premier and Champions League, marketers can have access to an estimated 3 billion viewers worldwide.

Premier League clubs are reported to have negotiated deals totalling over £100 million a year. The biggest contracts are reported to be with Manchester United and Aon and Liverpool with Standard Charter, worth around £20 million each year. Tottenham Hotspur appear to be ahead of the game and have negotiated different sponsors for the different competitions in which they compete, although it is debatable whether fans will buy more than one shirt. Chelsea have a deal worth £13 million, while many smaller clubs in the Premier League have smaller deals, seven clubs are reported to have sponsorship worth less than £1 million a year. Sponsorship deals are currently estimated to be worth between 2- 10 percent of the clubs revenue.

The first English team to display an advert on their shirt was Liverpool in 1978, and by the 1980’s most clubs had a shirt sponsor. Initially the advert sizes were limited, and some adverts were prohibited such as those for cigarettes and alcohol. Many companies now try and negotiate long contracts with clubs, thus making their brand synonymous with that club. The strategy that can prove very effective, a survey found that 29% of fans find a product or brand associated with their favourite club more attractive than other products, although in theory this could also have a negative effect with fans of opposing teams possibly less likely to buy that product.

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