The Benefit Of Long-Standing Football Sponsorship Deals

November 16, 2018


There are many reasons to consider sponsorship. Not only does it drive sales, it makes you stand out against your competitors whilst raising brand awareness, enhancing your brand’s credibility, and it provides you with a wider demographic. Return on investment (ROI) is probably the biggie though.

You can achieve long-term benefits from working with a sponsor who may potentially offer a ROI far beyond the initial requirement of time or effort it would take to secure the deal.

Another bonus is that a brand lends their credibility to yours through association when it pays to obtain permissive rights to be associated with your brand. You will be in front of their audience in a position of trust.

Your reputation can be upheld in a positive light, or be turned around from a negative one by sponsorship. Make sure you provide a great customer experience through sponsorship and you’ll gain brand evangelists along the way. Word of mouth and social media are great tools for customers to share their positive experiences, as are freebies provided by sponsors which will crop up everywhere, providing further promotion.

We’ve taken a look at some of the longest-standing sponsorship deals to see what the gains were for brands…

Liverpool - Carlsberg 

Since 1992, Carlsberg have been involved with The Reds, and even when scaling back from the big-ticket front-of-shirt deal in 2010, remained the club’s Official Beer Partner in with a deal set to run until the end of the 2018/19 season.

Still a partner of the club to this day, the two brands celebrated their 25th anniversary of the partnership in 2017. As part of the celebrations, Carlsberg brewed a limited edition beer using unique research and state-of-the-art technology that harnesses the atmosphere generated by fans at the iconic Anfield.

The Reds’ former chief executive, Rick Parry, said that the partnership is based on trust and mutual respect and that the two brands share a commitment to excellence in their respective fields. Carlsberg’s involvement with the club enables both companies to jointly build on the relationships with the international fan community.

The beer giant benefit from improved taps in the stadium as well as pitch-side LED signage and access to players and hospitality packages. It also receives a significant rights package ensuring a global reach including the Far East, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe markets, as well as the core Western Europe markets. The partnership has provided Carlsberg with a great opportunity to reach an international market.

Everton - Chang

Liverpool’s rivals, Everton’s partnership with Thai beverage company Chang lasted 13 years before it was announced last May that the deal would be coming to an end. They both announced they will maintain links through a three-year community partnership agreement, replacing the prime front-of-shirt position the brand held, proving there are a range of benefits even after a long-standing deal comes to a close.

In a statement in 2017, the club said: “The agreement will see the continuation of the friendship between the club and Chang through a series of community programmes and initiatives in both Thailand and Merseyside.

“Activities will include football coaching trips to and from Thailand and further development of the Chang Junior Cup; a national junior competition to assist grassroots development for Thai players and coaches. The partnership will also continue to support the work of the Thaibev Academy in Bangkok in developing young footballing talent in Thailand.”

Everton’s Chief Executive, Robert Elstone, said: “The enduring success of our partnership with Chang is based on a set of shared values and a deep and genuine friendship between the two organisations. I’m really pleased that we will be continuing to work together with a clearly defined focus on community – something which is incredibly important to both organisations.”

Not only has the partnership worked well within football, but Everton and Chang worked closely together to help victims of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 which affected Thailand and many parts of the Pacific region.

Arsenal – Emirates

Arsenal have benefitted from a long-standing partnership with Emirates which began in 2004 and will see their front-of-shirt deal run until at least the 2023-24 season, with the Stadium Naming Rights to the Emirates Stadium in North London, where Arsenal play their home games, running until 2028. The recently signed five-year extension between the club and brand will reportedly see an annual uplift of the existing £30 million deal by another £10 million.

This contract provides the football club with vital revenue to compete on the European stage. The dual sponsorship deal that Emirates holds provides large brand exposure for the business and makes them a household name in the UK and across Europe.

Arsenal’s former Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, said: “Our shirt partnership is the longest running in the Premier League and one of the longest relationships in world sport.” Adding that the latest agreement would see "significantly increased investment" from Emirates, which would help the club in its quest for trophies.

In return, Emirates will hold full exclusivity within the airline sector and see the team board the companies jets on pre-season tours and European trips as well as retaining marketing rights to develop campaigns and initiatives featuring Arsenal around the world.

Speaking in 2004, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, the billionaire chairman of Emirates, said: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sponsor such a major new stadium and club, and represents a win-win partnership for both Emirates and Arsenal."

On its website, Emirates says: “Football is a truly global sport and consequently has always been an important strand to Emirates’ sponsorship portfolio. Through the acquisition of sponsorship rights with governing bodies and leading clubs’ teams, Emirates has arguably become one of the most prominent brands within football.”

Manchester City – Etihad

Manchester City and Etihad first entered their long-standing partnership in 2009 - becoming the club’s Official Shirt Partner – a deal which is still running to the current day. Under new ownership, the club renegotiated its 250-year lease with Manchester City Council in October 2010, gaining the benefit of being able to offer the Stadium Naming Rights as an additional revenue stream in exchange for a substantial rent increase. The stadium was renamed the Etihad Stadium in July 2011, seeing a 10-year agreement put in place which reportedly earned the club up to £400 million over the course of the agreement– and saw extension of their jersey sponsorship to match this.  The 10-year agreement was worth more than twice the previous naming rights record which was held by JP Morgan Chase's £187 million for the new Madison Square Garden.

Since the partnership began eight years ago, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has established itself as the world’s leading airline and has gone on to become the fastest growing airline in the history of commercial aviation. Putting money into the successful football club - Manchester City won the FA Cup in 2011 and the Barclays Premier League in the 2011-12 season - seems to have paid off.

On Etihad’s website, it says: “Being partnered with such a successful club playing in the Barclays Premier League & UEFA Champions League gives Etihad Airways vast coverage to a global audience of sports fans.”

The partnership has also allowed for the development of youth leaders around the world, who are tackling social issues in their communities by delivering youth-led football projects.

So, there we have it. Some of the longest-standing sponsorship deals in football. There are, of course, many more we didn’t mention and we’re sure there are many more to come over the years. Check back next week for some of the longest-standing sports sponsorship deals, and keep up to date with ECHO on our website, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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