How Football Sponsorship Became a Global Industry

Published on: 07 April 2020
How Football Sponsorship Became a Global Industry
Sponsorship is the backbone of football

Football is big business and being the most-watched sport in the world by some distance, then it is of no surprise that brands large and small see the advantage of being associated with it.

Since football is undoubtedly a global industry, it is logical that football sponsorship is as well. The most common type is the shirt sponsor, as this is the most visual representation of a football club, but we will look at some other examples as well.

Revenue is King

Although, as we know, football is by far the biggest sport in the world by the number of fans and by revenue created, it is not the case that managing finances is an easy task for the operators of a professional club.

Their income may be high, but the outgoings can be just as high, if not more. Player salaries and transfer fees have grown in startling numbers in the last few decades, a 1500% increase in 20 years, making every revenue stream essential.

What Types of Sponsors do Teams Attract?

We can see that by the value of transactions that the most common types of sponsors are aviation firms and the automotive industry, this shows that at the lucrative end of the market, at least it is high-value brands that are sponsoring big football clubs.

Other types of businesses include online betting firms such as Lucky Nicky, and famously Barcelona FC paid money to the charity Unicef instead of taking money from a shirt sponsor.

How Much of Turnover is Shirt Sponsorship?

Big clubs have multiple revenue streams, and although they have substantial sponsorship deals, such as Manchester United's £64m Chevrolet deal. This is a huge deal by the standards of most clubs; however, with the Premier League club turning over around £640 million, it's barely more than 10%; for smaller clubs, the percentage can be much higher.

It Can be a Local Connection or a Global Brand

Speaking of smaller clubs, you can often see the shirt sponsor being a local company as this keeps the community spirit of the organization alive. But there are still examples of global brands sponsoring smaller sports clubs, take the case of McDonald's who routinely offer sponsorship to local and children's sporting teams and events. These larger brands feel a community-minded image helps connect them to customers.

Sponsorship is More than Shirts

Most of the discussion of football sponsorship focuses on the main shirt sponsor, as this is the one that is seen everywhere. You see the players wearing it, not only when playing but also being interviewed and in team promotional events and broadcasts. But although this is true, there are plenty of other sponsorship opportunities offered by football clubs.

You can sponsor the match ball, and there are plenty of advertising opportunities in the club magazine or matchday program, as well as the website. The other classic sponsorship is the advertising boards surrounding the pitch and attached to the stands and the backgrounds when players are interviewed post-match for TV.

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