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Football Shirt Sponsors Are Harder To Find


The turmoil at Manchester United's sponsors, AIG, has focused attention on football shirt sponsors. Football shirt sponsorship has enjoyed steady growth in recent years. According to sports marketing consultant Sports Markt, total revenues last year were £287.8m in the six large European leagues, up 10.6 per cent on the previous year and doubling their value in eight years. But, as with most aspects of life in the Premier League, there is a gulf between the top clubs and everyone else, and the economic downturn is leaving other clubs struggling to find a sponsor. Newly promoted West Brom have no shirt sponsor, while Aston Villa is following Barcelona, which carries Unicef on its shirts, by donating its shirt rights to Acorns, a children's hospice.

'Clearly with three teams without jersey sponsorship income, the overall revenue from jersey sponsorship of all Premier League teams will certainly drop this year in comparison to previous seasons,' Andrew Walsh of Sport Markt told the Financial Times. 'In relation to other European top leagues, the actual figure appears even lower, due to the strong currency abroad.' Shirt sponsorship represents about 20-25 per cent of a club's commercial revenues, but clubs are finding it harder to nail down sponsors for periods of two to three years. 'A lot of sponsors are using it as a dip-in.' Mr Barrand commented. 'Once they've got brand exposure, they come out.' Online gambling comapnies, a lucrative partner for several clubs, are quetsioning the wisdom of tie-ups after the government banned their names from appearing on children's replica kits. One thing is clear: as the economic climate worsens, so, too, does the outlook for football clubs' shirt sponsorship.