Football teams with different shirt sponsors for different competitions

Sponsorship of professional football teams in England

Professional football teams that participate in the either the FA Premier League or the various divisions contained within the Football League often have sponsorship on the front of their shirts.

These teams will often be sponsored by a variety of different companies sponsoring them in different areas of their commercial business. For example a certain alcohol company may sponsor a team meaning that the only alcoholic products available inside the home stadium will be of that particular company. Furthermore certain teams may be sponsored by an airline which means the official overseas packages to see that team’s matches will only use that specific airline.

One of the most lucrative sponsorship deals that a football team can enter into is for the sponsorship of the team kit.

Sponsorship of the team kit

A specific professional football team will play in a kit which is manufactured by a specific sportswear company. The name of that sportswear company will appear on the shirt on the opposite side to the club badge. However, there will be the name of a team sponsor on the shirt also. This is an extremely lucrative contract for the company sponsoring the team as the name of their company will become synonymous with a famous professional football team thus increasing the profile of their company. Accordingly a company may be willing to part with huge sums of money for this privilege.

Is there any regulations in place which govern the sponsorship on football kit for teams playing in England?

The national governing body of football – the Football Association – implements specific regulations in relation to the sponsorship of football kits in English football.

What do these Football Association Regulations state?

 The Football Association clothing regulations state the following:

  • That the name of sponsors can appear in a single area not exceeding 200 square centimeters on the front of the shirt
  • That the name of the sponsor can appear in an area not exceeding 100 square centimeters
  • That the name of the sponsor can appear in an area not exceeding 100 square centimeters on the back of the shorts
  • That the name of the sponsor can appear once only on each sock tie-up in an area not exceeding 100 square centimeters

What is the purpose of the Football Association Regulations?

Despite what many people may argue, the principle reason behind the sport of football is the actual game and the competition rather than specific teams making money.

The FA Rules therefore exist to protect the integrity of the competition in ensuring that teams are not covered in sponsorship detracting from the spectacle of the game.

Is it possible for an English football team to have a different shirt sponsor for the different competitions in which they play?

Looking at the example of an English football team playing in the FA Premier League, during a domestic season they will play in the following competitions: 

  •       The FA Premier League
  •       The FA Cup
  •       The League Cup

The above Football Association Regulations will apply to all of the competitions in which the team plays meaning that the regulation concerning the name of the sponsor on the front of the shirt will apply in all three competitions. However, there is nothing in the Football Association Regulations which state that the name of the sponsor has to be the same for all competitions played in.

These means that an English football team could possibly have a different sponsor on the front of their shirt for each different competition in which they compete.

Is this something which is likely to happen?

During June 2010 an FA Premier League football club announced the intention to possibly have a different shirt sponsor for each of the competitions in which they played.

What was the reasoning behind this?

That specific club had just lost their previous sponsor as the sponsorship agreement had just come to an end and the sponsor decided not to renew.

Why did the sponsor decide not to renew?

Football may be an extremely lucrative industry but it is also one which is suffering from the economic downturn experienced by all other industries. Accordingly some sponsors are unable to afford the vast sums which they are required to pay as part of the sponsorship agreement.

Why will selling sponsorship for different competitions prove a more financially viable system?

The reasoning behind different sponsorship for different competitions is that if the sponsorship rights can be broken up into at least three different deals the money required to be paid by the each of the sponsors would not be as much as a complete sponsorship deal. Accordingly the club felt that it would be more financially viable to attract three or more different sponsors for smaller sponsorship deals that one sponsor for a larger sponsorship deal.

What are the potential issues with implementing this kind of scheme?

One of the biggest problems when implementing this kind of scheme is the issue of which of the sponsor will appear on the replica shirts sold to the public and the shirts used in promotional campaigns.

If the players appear in club kit for promotional opportunities they will not be using the shirt for a specific match and conflict may arise between the sponsors as to whose name will go on the shirt. The same issue could arise in the relation to the replica shirts sold to fans.

Will this sponsorship scheme be going ahead for the next FA Premier League season?

Currently the club involves has merely stated their desire to potentially sell sponsorship in this way. Currently no deals are in place and the club may have to start the season without any sponsorship on the front of the shirt.

This is a clear indication that football is not exempt from the financial difficulties suffered by other industries.