Putting your company name front and center on a team’s jersey could arguably be seen as a wiser investment than placing your name on the team’s stadium. In Europe, some teams are finding kit sponsorships even more profitable than stadium deals thanks to increased levels of investment.
According to the research firm Repucom, the British Premier League experienced a 20% increase in shirt sponsorships in the 2014/15 season following a 36% rise in shirt sponsorships the season before. Chelsea AFC, one of the league’s biggest clubs, recently agreed to a deal with Yokohama Rubber Company worth $61.4 million per year. Even greater, Manchester United is in the middle of a $70 million per year deal with Chevrolet. According to CNN, Qatar Airways spends $181 million a year to be the jersey sponsor of Barcelona, arguably the most recognizable soccer team in the world.
Jersey sponsorships do not come without controversy. In England, Newcastle United has been forced to remove the Wonga logo from its children’s replica jerseys starting in the 2016 season because the company is a payday lender. In Spain 86% of all jersey sponsorships come form outside of Spain. While this is excellent marketing for companies looking to increase their international reach, its one less avenue for companies within the country to push their own names.
Jersey sponsorship in MLS totaled $55.8 million, which is higher than the Netherland’s top league, the Eredivisie. In 2012, 13 teams had kit sponsors and today, 18 out of the 20 teams have sponsors. The team with the greatest deal, the LA Galaxy still only makes $4.4 million per season from Herbalife. As the league continues to grow in international prominence, time will tell if these jersey sponsorships grow in size and scope. Here is a promotional video hyping the new Sporting Kansas City jersey, with sponsor Ivy Funds, introduced this past Wednesday.