Tottenham and Manchester United have both changed the face of football sponsorship as we know it in this country over the past two years, but will the rest of the top flight follow suit sooner rather than later?
The north London club’s chairman, Daniel Levy, is well-renowned for his business savy, managing to secure a landmark commercial partnership agreement with the richest club in the world, Real Madrid, earlier this summer when Luka Modric moved to Spain, but the somewhat less-known shirt sponsorship deal is just as clever.
When he managed to clinch the deal involving software infrastructure company Autonomy back in 2010 for £20m, in an innovative move, he also brought in financial services company Investec as their second sponsor for cup competitions, which was maximised that season in particular given their fantastic Champions League exploits. Although the terms of the Investec deal has not been revealed, it’s thought to be around the £3m per season mark as Levy seeks to get every last drop of investment for the club that he can and they recently renewed earlier in the summer.
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Manchester United, never a club to be left behind when it comes to making the most of their commercial opportunities, signed a £40m four-year deal for their domestic training kit with logistics company DHL back in 2011. At the time it exceeded the value of all but five of the main shirt sponsors in the Premier League in an astounding piece of business for the club.
The club’s chief executive David Gill at the time of the deal lauded it, stating it “breaks new ground in the English game”, and the sponsorship deal only covers domestic games, so they retain the avenue should they wish to use it in the future, of even going as far as to have a separate European sponsor, broadly similar to Tottenham’s agreement with Ivestec.
This is just the latest in a long line of new sponsorship deals that the club have signed in recent times, with commercial director Richard Arnold helping to oversee the reorganisation of the club’s commercial department to target growth across the world in a range of regional categories and sign individual deals with telecom and media partners.
This has led to Bwin becoming their official online gaming and betting partner, Chevrolet their new shirt sponsor while also signing a three-year partnership with Vietnamese mobile telecommunications company, Beeline, to distribute United content in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
The biggest deal of all recently, though, was the one struck with Toshiba Medical Systems which has seen their training ground complex at Carrington given a radical face-lift to the tune of £13m worth of new medical equipment in what is now a state-of-the-art training facility, which when you consider their recent troubles with injury, will serve as a timely boost looking further ahead.
Even by football’s standards, the commercial interest in the game is growing and it appears as if clubs are no longer being tied down to long-term deals with just one main sponsor, rather picking and choosing deals to suit them and maximise revenue in the process, with Tottenham and Manchester United right at the forefront of this.
The result is likely to see these two clubs being given large transfer kittys in the future, simply because they’re getting between £5-40m a year more than their nearest rivals and it won’t be long before every other club around catches on, setting up telecommunications, kit and medical sponsors.
Of course, the knock-on effect that this has is that, with Tottenham for example, they now have two separate home kits which could drive income up even higher with supporters willing to buy one shirt for the league and another one in Europe, but it does feel like they’re ripping you off a bit as it is and this latest move may be pushing it.
Nevertheless, sensible and smart leadership from both clubs’ commercial departments has given them the edge on the rest of the top flight and any sponsorship deal that the club signs in future can only benefit the long-term stability of the club, putting it on an even more sound financial footing.
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