Deals on wheels - How the motor industry changed football sponsorship

Football sponsorship is a big deal – the 20 Premier League clubs have pulled in £165.75million between them in shirt deals alone this season – and multi-national corporations will put their name to almost anything if it books them a seat on the football gravy train.
Does Manchester United really need an ‘Official Logistics Partner’? DHL seemed to think when it agreed to sponsor the club’s training kits in a deal worth £40million over four years – a figure that exceeded the actual first team kit deals (remember, this was £10million a year to sponsor the training kit) for the majority of the Premier League put together. And so global is the appeal of the Premier League, even companies that do little or no business in the UK are keen to get a piece of the action. For instance, Keijan, a Chinese telecommunications firm, sponsored Everton shirts for the 2002-03 season with the sole intention of increasing brand awareness in China, where Premier League games attract audiences of between 100million and 360million. So it was interesting to hear that Chevrolet has ended its sponsorship deal with Liverpool prematurely in preparation for the brand pulling out of Europe completely from 2015. Given the profile of the Premier League in the States, Chevrolet’s parent company, General Motors (GM), may well have considered staying on at Anfield , but because it will no longer be able to supply the club with Chevrolet cars once it pulls out of Europe, it’s decided to carry on the deal using Vauxhall branding instead. As part of the new deal, the cars given to Liverpool players by Chevrolet will be replaced with Vauxhalls – I bet, Joe Allen can’t wait to trade in his Camaro for an Astra!
In the main, though, motor manufacturers still can’t get enough of the game…

Deals on wheels

Chevrolet - Although Chevrolet has put the brakes on its sponsorship of Liverpool, it’s gone full-throttle with its endorsement of Manchester United and will replace AON as the club’s main sponsor (and shirt sponsor) from the start of the 2014/15 season. And it’s United’s global appeal that has seen them bag the £357million deal, as Alan Batey, GM’s North America Vice President, explains: “We are extremely proud to connect our brand, Chevrolet, with Manchester United and its passionate supporters all around the world.” Ford Ford has been one of the UEFA Champions League’s main sponsors for two decades now, and in 2011 signed a contract extension with UEFA that will see its name associated with the competition until 2015 and make it UEFA’s longest standing sponsor. Ford has also been the main sponsor of Sky Sports’ live football coverage for over 20 years. Vauxhall For the last three years, Vauxhall has been the primary partner to the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland football teams, but because of the rules surrounding the sponsorship of international football shirts, the company can’t put its logo any of the home nations’ tops. Apparently, this ban on shirt sponsors has something to do with FIFA wanting protect the integrity of its competitions (seriously?!) and protect the exclusivity of the tournament’s official sponsors (that’s more like it!) Speaking of which… Hyundai and Kia The South Korean motor giants have both been the ‘Official Automotive Partners’ of FIFA since 1999 and have exclusive sponsorship rights to all FIFA competitions - so it probably wouldn’t take too kindly to the England team taking to the field in Brazil this summer with a rival manufacturer’s name plastered over the front of their shirts. Kettering Tyres Kettering Tyres is by no means a household name, nor is it a multi-national conglomerate, but the small Northamptonshire garage struck up possibly the most important shirt sponsorship deal in history when it paid Kettering Town to put the legend ‘Kettering Tyres’ on their shirts for the match against Bath City. Why so important? Because it happened on January 24, 1976 and Kettering Town became the first ever English club to have its shirts endorsed.
The Football League subsequently ordered the club to remove the lettering, which it duly did. Well, it removed the ‘yres’ so the shirts still had ‘Kettering T’ on the front which, it argued, stood for ‘Kettering Town’. Although the Football League took a dim view of this, it relented on shirt sponsorship a year later. Ironically, Kettering Town couldn’t find a shirt sponsor for the 1977/78 season. Since then, though, football clubs have been able to have their shirts emblazoned with the names and logos of everything from government health campaigns - such as West Brom’s No Smoking Symbol from 1985/86 - to pop bands: Wet Wet Wet sponsored Clydebank’s shirts back in 1993. What’s the weirdest football shirt sponsor you’ve ever seen? Let us know via the comments…

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