Football is currently going through many changes. We’re seeing the maximum number of substitutes allowed to be used increasing, a new loan system coming into play, and now there will also be restrictions over the commercial deals clubs can sign off on. And it’s the latter which is set to make the biggest impact.
As everyone knows, sponsorship deals where football clubs are concerned are crucial. They’re there to offset outgoings, which means teams can be more active in the transfer market, pay bigger transfer fees, and afford larger salaries. It’s a case of the more financially rewarding the shirt sponsor, for example, the better.
One of the biggest backers of late in the shirt sponsor arena specifically have been gambling companies, be it sportsbook operators or gaming sites. But, new rules state that clubs are effectively banned from advertising on their behalf. So, while UEFA, who are backed by the likes of Entain via their bwin brand, can continue with their commercial partnerships, individual teams cannot. Furthermore, Entain will also use their online casino arm, PartyCasino, one of many brands in the group’s portfolio, to forge relationships is other sport like F1 McLaren. This is now looks like the way forward for several gaming companies with multiple brands/services in multiple countries/regions.
Immediately the new rules will more than likely lead to changes where kits are concerned. Many football shirts that fans of their clubs have become accustomed to, primarily because of the sponsor’s name emblazoned across the middle, will have to be scrapped. Nearly half of the teams competing in the English Premier League have a shirt sponsorship agreement with companies they can no longer advertise for, which shows how much upheaval there is set to be.
The likelihood is that football clubs, who will have been aware of the impending threat to their commercial relationships for some time, will have remained one step ahead of the game. They will already be sourcing new shirt sponsorship agreements for when their current deals end, ensuring that any new partners they bring onboard will receive the necessary approvals.
So, in terms of the kits themselves, it’s likely the name on the front could change. And, because of the suggested dip in revenue these changes will bring, it could mean that more kit space and sponsorship opportunities are created to maximise income. So, for example, we could see more sleeve sponsors, short sponsors and the like. If clubs, especially those competing at the top end of the sport, want to be competitive, then they must have the spending power and capabilities to match.
Newcastle United, for example, have Fun88 as their shirt sponsor, a sports betting operator. And, after their recent takeover, they want to pump as much cash as possible into the club so they can quickly make up ground on the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. But, to do so, they’re going to need significant commercial revenue streams, such as a lucrative short sponsor, to offset any spending that takes place. So they’ll have to ditch Fun88 under the new rules and find another industry ready to back football heavily, which will be the case for many clubs.