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Sponsorship Spotlight – Assessing the value of the Premier League sleeve

Given its reputation for monetisation and global reach, it is no surprise to see the Premier League following in the footsteps of La Liga, Ligue 1 and the Chinese Super League by accepting sleeve sponsors from the start of the 2017/18 season.

It has been suggested that the top clubs could bring in £10 million per season from this new sponsorship, for just a 100 sq/cm placement on players’ right arms. SBC News sought opinion on the value of the ‘Premier League sleeve’ from some of the leading lights in the sports sponsorship space.


Alger, Sleeve Sponsorship
Alan Alger, Betway

Betway pays more than any other bookmaker sponsor in the Premier League with £6 million a season to West Ham over three and a half years. SBC spoke to the bookmaker’s PR Manager Alan Alger about the comparative value against front-of-shirt sponsorship.

SBC: Exclusivity deals will prevent clubs from selling to a company in the same sector as their lead shirt sponsor. Given that half of the Premier League clubs already have gambling operators as their main shirt sponsors, can you see any value for bookmakers in taking up sleeve sponsorships?

AA: “The green light for sleeve sponsorship will have gathered plenty of interest from many brands looking for top-level exposure in the sports industry.

“You only have to look at the likes of motor racing to realise that companies are willing to shell out big money for the smallest advertising spaces and that’s now filtering into English football.

“There could well be some value in taking advantage of these new sponsorship opportunities, especially if brands can secure deals with the bigger clubs, but holding a space on the front of a shirt will always preside over that and we’re focused on our existing deal with West Ham United.”


Kenny, Sleeve Sponsorship
Tony Kenny, William Hill

Recently, William Hill has been more focused on event sponsorship, and particularly with Scottish Football and the World Darts Championship. Therefore, we were interested in speaking to Head of Sponsorship Tony Kenny to get his take on the value of becoming a ‘sponsor amongst sponsors’.

SBC: As a brand, William Hill has become synonymous with sporting events such as the World Darts Championship. Can you see any value in paying eight figures to become a ‘sponsor amongst sponsors’ on a Premier League shirt?

TK: “I don’t think we’d be interested in paying such a huge figure for a small piece of the pie. Unless they are offering a lot more inventory with it.

“We already have huge global visibility through our current sports sponsorship and partnerships – and I believe our budget would be best spent elsewhere. That said, the clubs will probably bring in new sponsors – but probably not from the European-based gambling sector.”


House, Sleeve Sponsorship
Matt House, SportQuake

Our final port of call was SportQuake, a sports marketing agency which has been at the forefront of gaming industry investment into the Premier League since 2006 when they pioneered the first front of shirt deal between an Asian operator and EPL Club (Mansion and Spurs).

Subsequently they have worked with many leading European and western operators including 12 Bet, Fun 88, Bet 365 and Betfair and related industry players including PaySafe (Neteller, Skrill). We spoke to CEO Matt House about sleeve inventory and the value for money of the 100 sq/cm placement.

SBC: Back in December, you estimated sleeve inventory to be worth 15-20% of a Premier League club’s front-of-shirt sponsorship. £10 million would represent almost 20% of Manchester United’s £53 million deal with Chevrolet, which is the most lucrative in the PL. Therefore, is £10 million realistic for betting companies?

MH: “Firstly, it’s great to see more high quality inventory being made available to sponsors. Its certainly a big stature play to become ‘one of three on the uniform’ alongside the kit supplier and the front-of-shirt sponsor. In terms of value, alongside the 100 sq/cm on the arm itself, as a senior club partner the packages will include high profile follow through marketing rights including IP rights, LED and Interview Backdrop branding and player access for content creation (which is increasingly important with the trend for social consumption and sharing).

“However, in the short term this isn’t really a massive opportunity for betting. Next season 12 of the 20 PL clubs will have betting companies as front-of-shirt sponsors, which because of category exclusivity provided in these deals means there is no shirt arm sponsorship alongside existing front of shirt betting sponsors. For the other eight, there may be complications with global betting partners, or for the biggest clubs, they simply don’t want to feature bookmakers on the shirt currently.”

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