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Let the Brand see the Front of Shirt!


Football's first shirt sponsor


Intro

On Thursday 13th April 2023, the Premier League announced that their clubs collectively agreed to withdraw gambling sponsorship from the front of clubs’ match-day shirts.

While clubs have time to find alternative industries and brands to target (the withdrawal beginning at the end of the 2025/26 season), it may be prudent to begin the transition sooner rather than later. A recent YouGov poll suggested that 77% of fans support the move away from gambling sponsorships. This blog post aims to provide key information for clubs and brands as to how they can partner effectively.



The Premier League announced that their clubs collectively agreed to  withdraw gambling sponsorship from the front of clubs’ match-day shirts


What are brands looking for? * Exposure – particularly important to emerging and challenger brands. * Targeting new markets and territories. * Return on Investment – how marketing departments can justify sponsorship expenditure and convert eyeballs to purchases. * Vanity projects, market dominance, staying ahead of competitors. * Authenticity. Will their target audience resonate with the partnership. * Publicity. Ensuring a strong and positive response from a PR perspective.

What can clubs offer brands? * Physical assets. This can range from dugout branding all the way to stadium naming rights, not to forget training ground and academies where there are also opportunities to showcase brands. * Ticketing & hospitality. Ideal for networking opportunities. * Media assets. Interview backdrops at press conferences and pre/post-match. * Digital assets; social media, club apps, club website, contactable database, club podcasts. * Additional exposure from third parties - Licensed video games such as FIFA (soon to be EA Sports FC) showcase a club’s intellectual property within the game.

How much?

According to SportsPro Media, front of shirt deals for Premier League clubs range between £6 million and £50 million per season, with sleeve deals from £600k up to £20 million per season.

Companies such as Turnstile highlight the importance of assigning relative pricing per asset/sponsorship right. Having realistic pricing strategies per asset will help clubs and brands build trust through transparency and help to maintain longer term relationships.

Industries that could be worth exploring

A recent industry report by KORE states that the top sponsorship spenders globally sit within the Financial, Food and Beverage, Communication and Media, Retail and Technology industries. When looking at the global market and where investments are taking place, automation and climate technology are key areas to keep an eye on.

From a B2C brand perspective, influencer marketing could be another avenue to explore. Having localised partnerships (for example famous influencer club supporters) is a good way to keep fans engaged. The recent acquisition of GOAT by WPP highlights that the media space are investing strategically here.

The video games industry can provide licensing opportunities, with clubs already working with popular games such as Fortnite. Statista provides insights that show incremental revenue between 2015 and 2022.



Statista provides insights that show incremental revenue	between   2015 and 2022


Examples of Effective Partnerships

Football Manager previously held rights to dugout branding at Leicester City’s King Power stadium. The prominent display, regularly in view of broadcaster’s cameras and the additional coverage from online media helped amplify the brand’s global exposure to countries where the game may not be as prevalent, in comparison to the video game studio’s core markets.

Away from football, in cricket The Hundred and it’s partnership with KP Snacks is a good example of a company utilising multiple brands through multiple assets. With the Hundred focussing on building a family audience and KP Snacks promoting their ‘Taste For Good’ programme demonstrates a strong alignment between brand and rights holder strategies.



The Hundred and it’s partnership with KP Snacks is a good example of a  company utilising multiple brands through multiple assets

Importance of transparency and strategy

It’s vital that brands find partnerships with clubs that match their marketing and company strategies. The Manchester United and TeamViewer deal indicates the market may not necessarily agree, with TeamViewer’s share price dropping significantly since the sponsorship announcement in 2021.

For clubs, it is a case of knowing your audience and identifying brands that match their ethos and values. Utilising assets and segmenting appropriately in commercial agreements will help maximise revenue in the long term.


Sam Graham is currently a free agent. Previously worked in Commercial and CRM roles with Leaders, Fulham FC, Sports Interactive (Football Manager) and Scisports.

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