Arsenal Emirates Stadium Exterior

How Important Are Sponsors to a Football Team?

Sponsorships have always been a massive part of the funding of a football team. Without them, football would look completely different. Think about it, without a huge chunk of money coming in from sponsorships, clubs would have to have far stricter budgets in relation to every aspect of the club, from the stadium to the players, to facilities for the fans, to backroom staff, and everything else. It would have a huge knock-on effect.

There is clearly great appeal to sponsor a football team as a range of huge global organisations are paying big money to sponsor a football team. In most cases, a football team will only show one sponsor on the front of the shirt, as well as potentially having sponsors on the sleeves and the back of the shirt. But this isn’t the only place where sponsors can be listed, we are seeing companies being featured on banners around the stadium, on adverts in the programmes and club websites, and even on the side of team buses.

What Type of Companies Sponsor Football?

There are so many different industries wanting to get their name onto the merchandise and assets of the major football teams. There is a huge battle between big organisations which can only be decided with a huge amount of cash being put in front of club owners.

Here are five of the top brands sponsoring football teams and organisations across the world:


Cola Bottle and Spotlight

It should come as no surprise that Coca-Cola gets a fair piece of sponsorship deals in football, as they do with all marketing possibilities that they decide will provide the best return on their investment. They are an official World Cup partner and have been since 1978. They are also labelled as the longest-standing corporate partners of FIFA. This is a huge achievement, and they show no signs of ending this.

Coca-Cola has also managed to sponsor huge footballing events such as Euro 2016. Of course, they don’t really need any more brand recognition than they already have, but with more competitors trying to enter the soft drinks market and take some of their market share it is important for them to remain at the top and show they really are a powerhouse.

Obviously, a fizzy drink that is high in sugar is not the perfect match for sports teams in the eyes of many. But money talks and though it is unlikely too many professional football players drink Coke every day, the firm clearly thinks the association with the Beautiful Game persuades plenty of fans to buy their products.


Chelsea Shirt Boards at Stamford Bridge
Image: miroslav110, Bigstock Photo

One of the most popular kit sponsors is Nike, who might well be seen as a better fit than Coke when it comes to the sponsorship of any sport. They are always on the hunt to sponsor as many of the big European clubs as possible. In fact, they currently have around 10 elite clubs under their wing. They are in huge competition with other brands like Adidas and Puma who also have the financial capacity to claim some of these elite clubs and in some cases even prise them away from Nike’s clutches.

For example, Adidas managed to secure a huge deal with Manchester United. In recent years this has slightly backfired on Adidas, as United are currently massively underperforming, especially compared with how they were when Nike were the kit sponsor.


Adidas Manchester United Footballs

Adidas, as we have already mentioned, are also one of the top dogs in football kit sponsorship. They have seemed to let things slip a little over recent times, with the introduction of up and coming sponsors such as Puma, Umbro, Under Armour, and so on. They may have taken one of the biggest football clubs in the world off the hands of Nike, but in doing so, it meant sacrificing another global giant, Liverpool FC.

Adidas are a huge part of tournament agreements as well, for example the Champions League and the World Cup. They have played a major part in these tournaments and this great history is something they can hold onto.


Barclays, Canary Wharf
Image: chrisimages, Bigstock Photo

Multinational banking giant Barclays were a long-serving sponsor of the English Premier League, having sponsored them from 2001 to 2004 under the Barclaycard brand then from 2004 to 2016 as Barclays. Since 2016 Barclays have continued to sponsor the league, but it is know simply as the Premier League (as opposed to the Barclays Premier League). Barclays also sponsor or have sponsored other leagues around the world as well as some of the UK’s largest footballing bodies including investment in women and girls’ football in the UK.


Pepsi Bottle

Another fizzy drinks giant that might not be particularly well suited to sponsoring sports, Pepsi nevertheless stepped things up a notch and decided to sponsor actual football players including the huge names of Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, Lionel Messi, Kaka and more!

They are also the soft drink sponsor of football leagues such as the MLS, which is the biggest football league in the United States.

The Issues With Shirt Sponsors

Man With Football Watching Match on TV

Despite there being a significant financial benefit for both clubs and sponsors when it comes to sponsorship deals, with clubs getting huge financial rewards and sponsors seeing great returns on their investment and increased brand awareness, there is a noticeable issue for consumers of these advertisements.

The issue lies with the types of sponsors we are seeing on football shirts and what they encourage. For example, if you consider all of the shirt sponsors of Premier League teams, which is the biggest football league in the world with the biggest attraction, you will notice that the majority of the English clubs have gambling companies as their sponsors.

The shirt sponsor is the most noticeable, overt exhibition of sponsorship in football as it’s in clear view through the game, as well as before and after each match such as during interviews with players. Having these sorts of sponsors could well encourage consumers to gamble, which could have negative effects financially and mentally. Gambling help can be found at Obviously gambling is not illegal and as things stand there are not the kind of advertising restrictions on the advertising of gambling companies as we see on things like tobacco or even alcohol. But there is a growing swell of opinion that gambling companies should not be advertised in places like football shirts because vulnerable groups could see and potentially be influenced by such advertising.

Premier League Clubs And Their Sponsors

Here we’ll run through the main shirt sponsors of the sides in the Premier League in the 2021/22 season.

Team Shirt Sponsor Industry/Sector
Arsenal Emirates Airline
Aston Villa Cazoo Car Retailer
Brentford Hollywoodbets Gambling
Brighton & Hove Albion American Express Finance
Burnley Spreadex Sports Gambling
Chelsea Three Mobile Communications
Crystal Palace W88 Gambling
Everton Cazoo Car Retailer
Leeds United SBOTOP Gambling
Leicester City FBS Online Trading
Liverpool Standard Chartered Banking & Finance
Manchester City Etihad Airways Airline
Manchester United TeamViewer Global Tech
Newcastle United Fun88 Gambling
Norwich City Lotus Cars
Southampton Gambling
Tottenham Hotspur AIA Insurance & Finance
Watford Gambling
West Ham United Betway Gambling
Wolverhampton Wanderers ManBetX Gambling

Whether a sponsor is classed as bad or good is clearly subjective. Indeed some shirt sponsor could be viewed as rather useful from the fans’ perspective. For example, airline companies may be useful for those looking to book future holidays or car companies for those looking for a new vehicle. Not that it’s difficult finding either online, but it might just prompt a consumer into at least checking out a company that is apparently endorsed by the football club they follow.

The issue of gambling firms sponsoring football teams is not something that has gone unnoticed. There are campaigns out there that are trying to combat the issue and get these types of sponsors banned from being allowed on football shirts and other areas of football clubs. It would be no surprise in the future if we do see the dismissal of these sponsors, however, for the moment at least, it seems the financial gain from sponsors overpowers the opinions of protestors, which is no great surprise.

How Much Do Clubs Get From Sponsorship Deals?

The amount that football teams are getting from their sponsors is truly mouthwatering for club owners. We are seeing a significant rise in sponsorship revenue and we expect these numbers to continue rising for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the latest exact figures from all shirt sponsors in the UK but what we do have are the figures from the top six teams in the premier league from the 2019/20 season. You may notice some of these sponsors have changed in recent times, but this will give you an idea on how huge these sponsorship deals are:

  1. Manchester United (Chevrolet) – £64 million
  2. Manchester City (Etihad) – £45 million
  3. Chelsea (Yokohama) – £40 million
  4. Liverpool (Standard Chartered) – £40 million
  5. Arsenal (Emirates) – £40 million
  6. Tottenham (AIA) – £35 million

Do Sponsors Ever Terminate Their Deals with Clubs?

Cancelled Round StampUnfortunately for some teams, their contracts with sponsors are not always plain sailing and there can be some complications leading to the termination of deals. Most of the time, the consequences of particular actions will be listed within the contract. For example, sponsors will cut ties with clubs that are underperforming. Let’s say a team fails to reach the UEFA Champions League places at the end of a season, their sponsors may cancel their contracts with them from the following season. These sorts of implications of underperformance are common as sponsors won’t always sign long term deals with clubs given the risk of them not performing at the anticipated level.

Sponsorship deals that are specific to players apply similar clauses in contracts. If a player gets injured for a long period, is underperforming or steps out of line from a disciplinary perspective, there could well be consequences.

A recent event that applies here is with the Manchester United youngster Mason Greenwood. Mason was sponsored by Nike as one of their players; however, due to recent events and an ongoing police investigation, Nike have terminated their sponsorship deal with the player as they do not condone his (alleged) actions and did not want him representing their brand, as it could have a negative influence on their company as a whole and, if he was convicted of the crimes of which he’s been accused, it wouldn’t be very ethical.

Other Revenue Sources

Accountant Using Calculator

As we know, sponsors are far from the only type of revenue source for clubs. With all the excitement and appeal of football around the world, it is one of the most valuable sports on the planet and with that comes huge revenue streams from all angles!

Here we are going to look at other revenue streams in football and what percentage of revenue they take up. Of course, not all clubs have the same income streams as the more successful ones in the most popular leagues will have more than others, therefore we will consider various types of incomes.

TV Broadcasting Rights

This is one of the most important incomes of any team, but of course only the leagues that actually get broadcasted on TV will benefit from it. How it works is simple, broadcasters buy the rights to broadcast football games live or sometimes for highlights packages. Of course, they will choose the games that they expect to get the biggest audience. Various reports show that the wealthiest league in world football with the biggest viewing is the English Premier League, which will not come as a surprise to many.

The football leagues receive the TV broadcasting revenue and this sum is then shared between all the clubs in the league. In some leagues, there is a significant imbalance when it comes to how much individual teams get, with the Spanish league offering more of the income to Real Madrid and Barcelona than to others. This is not seen as particularly fair, but there is no question that Real and Barca have the biggest appeal both in Spain and beyond their shores.

Previous revenue reports have shown that the Premier League averages around five times the revenue of La Liga in terms of TV deals, which in recent times may have grown further since the previous star players of the Spanish league Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo no longer play in the country.

Gate Receipts and Other Matchday Income

In order to ensure tickets are sold for each home game, football teams offer fans a season ticket. This means that the customer will pay a set price in order to go to every home game. Typically, to persuade the customer into buying a ticket, the price will be a lot cheaper than if they were to individually pay for each match. It is a great way of getting fans to commit to attending each game and help spur their team on.

Not all season tickets are the same price. Some teams have ticket prices that are considerably higher than others, that is not just across different leagues but also teams within the same leagues. You will often find that the better the team, the higher the season ticket or match day price. This is not set in stone, however, as some very successful sides deliberately attempt to keep ticket prices more affordable.

Here is a comparison of the top six Premier League teams and their most expensive season ticket prices from the 2020/21 season:

  • Arsenal – £2,755
  • Chelsea – £1,250
  • Liverpool – £869
  • Manchester City – £900
  • Manchester United – £950
  • Tottenham Hotspur – £1895

As expected, teams located around London tend to charge fans a considerably higher amount than those further up north. There will be several reasons for this, one main factor being that the clubs are aware that the average wage in the south is significantly higher than in the north.

When pricing up their season tickets, clubs will also consider other ways they can get fans dipping their hands in their pockets and handing over that hard-earned cash. That is why they sell things like football programmes, drinks, food, football shirts and other memorabilia. All of these add up and help teams rake income left, right and centre. Often the additional matchday sales will be more significant for smaller clubs who cannot raise so much money from TV or sponsorship deals.

It’s Clear Sponsors Play A Huge Part

The information above suggests that sponsorship deals are huge in football and contribute to most of the income for some teams. They are landing big deals that could cover player wages for almost the whole season for some clubs! The biggest clubs get lots more cash from TV deals and prize money, but sponsorship still plays a significant part.

Without these sponsors, many teams certainly would not be able to spend the massive amount of money they do on new players to get that starting 11 their fans have dreamed of. Luckily, we don’t expect to see sponsorships disappear anytime soon and they will always have a huge impact on football, even if certain sectors (such as gambling) are eventually stopped from at least certain types of football sponsorship.