The English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga led a $130 million rise in shirt sponsorship deals for Europe’s top championships last year, according to a report released on Tuesday.
After booming television rights, outfit sponsorship has become a valuable new source of income for top European clubs, some of whom now even put company names on their socks.
The United Arab Emirates has become the main spender in getting its name on soccer shirts.
The Repucom sports data firm said income from jersey sponsorship rose more than 20 percent last year to $777 million for the leagues in England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
“With investment in 2014-15 growing 20 percent over last season, the investment in shirt sponsorship has increased faster than at any time in the last 15 years,” said Glenn Lovett, Repucom’s head of global strategy.
The 20 Premier League clubs saw shirt revenue increase 36 percent. Manchester United last year made a shirt deal with US car maker Chevrolet worth $72 million annually.
La Liga’s income rose 30 percent to $125 million, with Barcelona’s deal with Qatar Airways, reportedly worth about $45 million, being the most lucrative.
The Bundesliga earned about $150 million, up nine percent, while France’s Ligue 1 got $85 million and Italy’s Serie A got $95 million.
However, the Dutch first division saw its jersey sponsorship income fall by five percent, according to Repucom.
The Netherlands has now been overtaken by Major League Soccer in the US, which reaped about $50 million.
With the Middle East now the main source of the new sponsorship revenue, about $160 million came from the United Arab Emirates alone.
Emirates Airline pays to put its name on the shirts of Real Madrid, Arsenal, AC Milan and Paris Saint Germain, accounting for much of that sum.
Behind the UAE, German firms are the next biggest sponsors and, increasingly, US companies.
In Europe’s other top soccer leagues, however, there has been a significant increase in deals which include branding on socks, shorts and the back of shirts.
Spanish champion Atletico Madrid last year became the first of 14 La Liga clubs to wear advertising on ties around their socks.
Manchester United last year reportedly pressed for sponsor names on the back of shirts but other Premier League clubs refused.
(China Daily 02/25/2015 page19)