It’s no secret that the English Premier League is big money. Each week, millions of pounds change hands between clubs and players, fans and ticket offices, and sponsors and clubs. Broadcast in 212 territories to 643 million homes, the EPL is watched by an estimated 4.7 billion fans, making it the most-watched sports league in the world. But how deep do the pockets go?
Of the 92 professional football teams in the UK, 20 hold the “top tier” status of being a Premier team. These 20 teams challenge against each other to claim the championship title; but there are just five teams whose names hold the majority of commercial power around the world: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.
Besides playing for the love of the game (and the TV deals that come along with it), these teams must generate revenue to maintain their football clubs and afford their elite brands. This is where sponsorships become an essential part of football culture. In total, the Premier League’s revenue from sponsorships averages £ 3.8 billion. The top five teams hold a staggering £763 million year in sponsorship deals on average.
What even is a sponsorship? There are three different types: main, kit, and sleeve. Main sponsorships are the names you associate with each team. When you think of Arsenal you picture “Fly Emirates,” and Manchester United has the golden Chevy cross embedded in your brain. These are the sponsors who make the most significant contributions to the team, in most cases, over 50%.
Another big-time sponsorship is a kit deal. This deal is, in essence, a licensing deal which enables the kit manufacturers to use the club’s brand to sell branded apparel. If you walk into a Nike store, you are bound to see Manchester City and Chelsea gear everywhere! The teams benefit from a kit deal because their sponsor provides their uniforms, and for each sale of anything sold in stores, the team will receive 10-15% of revenue from each transaction. The big dogs in the kit sponsorship industry are Nike, Adidas, and Puma.
Shirt sleeve sponsorships are new to the Premier League world. As of the 2017-2018 season, teams are allowed to have a sponsor on the left sleeve only because the Premier League logo is required to be on the right sleeve. These sponsors are there as a supporting sponsor, so they don’t contribute to a grand amount of money. An example of this is Western Union on the sleeve of Liverpool.
The Team Sponsorships
After appointing a new manager this past season, Unai Emery, the Gunners did not have an exciting finish. Maybe Emery’s 29 years of football experience will help this team prosper. The main sponsor of Arsenal is Fly Emirates. At an astounding £200 million, both sides signed a seven-year contract. On the left sleeve, you’ll see the logo of Rwanda Tourist Board that is worth £30 million for a total of 4 years. Adidas was able to snag Arsenal to supply their kit in the coming 2019/20 season, and this deal is worth £300 million over five years.
HIGHEST SPONSORED PLAYER
MESUT OZIL: Signed from Real Madrid, Ozil is a major asset to the Gunners. Although his past seasons weren’t great, he is still the highest sponsored player on the team. Aside from his team sponsorships, he has personal sponsors; Adidas (£25 million), Beats Electronics (unreported) and Mercedes-Benz (unreported). His net worth as of 2019 is around £68.5 million.
The Blues hold a sponsorship contract with Yokohama Rubber for a total of £200 million over five years. Hyundai was able to make their way onto the left sleeve of this popular uniform for £50 million over seven years. Since Nike became the kit supplier, the royal blue jersey is seen all over the world. This deal is for £900 million over a 16-year run. Wow! This demonstrates how the hard work of the players and head coach, Maurizio Sarri, pays off in the commercial world.
HIGHEST SPONSORED PLAYER
EDEN HAZARD: Watch out for this superstar! Definitely a ‘hazard’ for the other team when he is on the field. Not only is he a favorite on the field, but he is a hot commodity amongst the companies looking to sponsor. He personally has three sponsors: Topps, Lotus Bakeries, and Nike. Topps has partnered with him to provide his own trading card line, Lotus Bakeries is a sponsor in return for a social media campaign promoting a famous brand of their biscuits, and Nike is his most significant contributor. Although the details are unreported for the price of these contracts, we assume they are worth a good sum because Hazard is ranked one of the top 10 most expensive players in the football world, with a net worth of £79 million as of 2018. Unfortunately for Chelsea, Hazard signed a new contract days ago, and they will be losing their greatest player next season for his dream team, Real Madrid.
Standard Chartered has been the main sponsor of, manager, Jurgen Klopp’s team since 2011. The renewal contract as of last year is £160 million for 6 years. Western Union is the official sleeve sponsor until 2022 and is worth £25 million. The kit supplier for Liverpool is unique because New Balance only sponsors this one team, whereas Nike and Adidas sponsor multiple. The kit is worth £300 million and it expires in 2019 after a seven-year run.
HIGHEST SPONSORED PLAYER
VIRGIL VAN DIJK: Van Dijk is the most paid player in the Liverpool F.C as of this year. This 27-year-old transferred from Southampton to Liverpool in 2018 and will play till 2024. Some will say he has “an old head on young legs,” so he is definitely in the football industry for the long haul! The only personal sponsorship he holds right now is a boot deal with Nike. He is the face of the Nike Tempo Legend VII football boot.
After winning the 2018/19 Premier League title, manager Pep Guardiola is ready to send his players into the next season with a winning mindset. Etihad Airways have covered Their sky blue jerseys for the last nine years, and this will continue until the 2021 season. This main sponsorship is worth £400 million, which spans over ten years. The sleeve sponsor is Nexen Tire and they are providing £10 million per season. Their kit is supplied by Nike, a contract that is worth £72 million and is expiring in 2019 after six years.
HIGHEST SPONSORED PLAYER
SERGIO AGUERO: Among the top scorers in the league, Aguero has hit the ball inside the net 20 times just this season. Talk about a beast! Aguero, who is worth £29.8 million as of 2018, is one of the best in the club and everyone knows it. He holds two personal sponsorships: Puma and PepsiCo. Sergio acts as a brand ambassador for Puma and is a part of promotions for Pepsi. Teams who play against him are in for a real treat on the field!
General Motors paid an arm and a leg to represent the greatest team in the Premier League. Man United holds the most winning titles, but their performance in the past few seasons does not reflect that. Since the departure of longtime manager Alex Ferguson, they have undergone many changes. After five different managers came and went, current coach Ole Gunnar Solskjær will hopefully lead the team to a brighter future after finishing 6th in the 2018/19 season. Although they have been struggling, their sponsor deals are still incredibly high. The General Motors sponsorship is worth £371 million which will last for nine years. A new sleeve sponsorship was signed with Kohler for £20 million per season, and this is currently the most expensive sleeve deal in the league. Adidas proudly provides the kit for a whopping £750 million over ten years.
HIGHEST SPONSORED STAR PLAYER
PAUL POGBA: In 2017, Paul was the most expensive player in the world. As of 2019, he is the 5th highest paid football player earning about £37 million. His work on the field has hit a rough patch this season, but he will hopefully come back ten times stronger this coming year. He holds only one personal sponsorship, but it is an extremely profitable one. He signed on with Adidas for ten years and the contract is worth £31 million.
The other 15 Premier teams and their sponsorships:
Bournemouth: Shirt– M88 (4M) Sleeve- Mansion Kit- Umbro (5M)
Brighton & Hove Albion: Shirt- American Express (1.5M) Sleeve- JD Kit- Nike (1M)
Burnley: Shirt- Laba360 (5M) Sleeve- Astropay Kit- Puma (1M)
Cardiff City: Shirt- Visit Malaysia (3M) Sleeve- JD Kit- Adidas
Crystal Palace: Shirt- ManBetX (6.5M) Sleeve- Dongqiudi Kit- Puma
Everton: Shirt- SportPesa (9.6M) Sleeve- Rovio Kit- Umbro (30M)
Fulham: Shirt- Dafabet (3M) Sleeve- ICM Kit- Adidas
Huddersfield Town: Shirt- OPE (1.5M) Sleeve- Leisu Sports Kit- Umbro
Leicester City: Shirt- King Power (4M) Sleeve- Bia Saigon (ThaiBev) Kit- Adidas
Newcastle United: Shirt- Fun88 (6.5M) Sleeve- NONE Kit- Puma (4M)
Southampton: Shirt- Virgin Media (6M) Sleeve- Virgin Media (1.2M) Kit- Under Armour (4M)
Tottenham Hotspur: Shirt- AIA 35 mil Sleeve- NONE Kit- Nike (6M)
Watford: Shirt- FxPro (3M) Sleeve- MoPlay Kit- Adidas
West Ham United: Shirt- Betway (10M) Sleeve- Basset & Gold Kit- Umbro (4M)
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Shirt- W88 (5M) Sleeve- CoinDeal Kit- Adidas
Overall, the sponsorship game in the football world is exceptionally lucrative. The Premier League is only one example of this gigantic industry, and it alone is worth £3.8 billion. Once other European Leagues are added in, sponsorships will make up billions of profit for these leagues. Imagine that! The love of football will never die out, and neither will the never-ending cycle of trades and sponsorships. This is definitely the way these football teams like it!
Written by Danielle Hernandez