Sponsorships allow clubs to use their brand to make money in a similar way that kits do. Sponsorships rely on a team’s media exposure to concurrently spread awareness of a company’s brand. Teams can enter into multiple major sponsorship deals thanks to a rule in the EPL that allows a “sleeve sponsor” and a “main sponsor” (Friend 2018). They are so named because of their location on the jersey. A sleeve sponsor advertises on the left sleeve of the jersey, and a main sponsor gets to advertise across the chest of the jersey (Friend 2018).
Because they rely on a team’s media exposure, the size of a sponsorship deal often correlates with a team’s popularity. Typically, the largest sponsorship deals will be dealt to large market clubs who have large fanbases and have many of their games broadcast on TV. Size of a fanbase and number of games broadcast on TV are factors that tend to correlate with the strength of a team, so typically it’s the teams in the top half of the EPL standings that get the best sponsorship deals. Take for instance, Manchester United, who famously sports the Chevrolet logo in on the chest of their jerseys as part of one of the most lucrative sponsorship deals in professional soccer.
Unlike kits, however, sponsorship deals can be negotiated with any company, regardless of their line of business. As a result, sponsorship deals have played a role in determining the rules of Financial Fair Play, because powerful owners with ties to large corporations would negotiate massively overpriced contracts as a way of supplying their own personal funds to a club (We have another article on our website that dives deeper into how that trend came about as well as its impact on the league and how UEFA tried to prevent it). Below is a table showing some of the largest and smallest sponsorships deals in the EPL. To be succinct, only main sponsor deals will be considered, but the same trends can be observed with sleeve sponsors. All figures are expressed in pounds sterling.
|Manchester United||Chevrolet||450M, 7 years||64M|
|Manchester City||Etihad||400M, 9 years||45M|
|Chelsea||Yokohama||200M, 5 years||40M|
|AFC Bournemouth||M88||5M, 1 year||5M|
|Sheffield United||USG||10.5M, 3 years||3.5M|
|Norwich City||Dafabet||9M, 3 years||3M|
Source: Friend, Nick. “Premier League 2018/19 Commercial Guide: Every Club, Every Sponsor.” SportsPro, SportsPro, 10 Aug. 2018, www.sportspromedia.com/analysis/premier-league-preview-2018-19-sponsors-kit-deals-every-club.
Similarly to kits, sponsorship deals tend to increase in size and duration with more popular teams. The increases in size are tremendous, and contribute to the large disparity in revenue between the top and the bottom of the EPL. Ironically, it’s only very large corporations with already very well-known brands (which arguably don’t need as much advertising to stay relevant) who can afford to negotiate deals with the biggest teams, and not smaller brands whose advertising campaign would have a much larger impact on their businesses.
Friend, Nick. “Premier League 2018/19 Commercial Guide: Every Club, Every Sponsor.” SportsPro, SportsPro, 10 Aug. 2018, www.sportspromedia.com/analysis/premier-league-preview-2018-19-sponsors-kit-deals-every-club.