If you have been following football for a while, or if you have spent some time watching videos or looking at photos from the early-to-mid twentieth century, you might have realised that footballers wore plain kits. The only things which were on the shirts were club colours, their logo, and the player’s number.

History of Shirt Sponsorship

The first sponsored club in English football was Kettering Town, who signed a deal with a local tyre company back in 1976. Bolton and Derby later got sponsorship deals. This trend continued, and by the dawn of the Barclays Premier League era in 1992, almost every major club had a sponsorship deal. During the early years, however, sponsors were mostly local companies, but the changing nature of the Premier League has seen international companies dominate shirt sponsorships.

Shirt Sponsorship Today

Fast-forward to modern-day football and the first thing that strikes you when you come across a football shirt is a brand name. Surprisingly, the adverts on the front are more significant than the club’s logo in terms of size. Things do not stop there, and the 2018 and 2019 seasons have seen the introduction of sleeve sponsorships such as Arsenal’s “Visit Rwanda”.

The nature of sports sponsorship in English football is fascinating in many ways. Over the decades, the amounts involved in sponsorship deals have increased significantly, with Manchester United enjoying a whopping £47m per season deal, in terms of shirt sponsorship.

Nature of Sponsorship Deals

In the past, virtually every sector of the economy was represented; electronic manufacturers, alcohol, insurance, local companies, radio stations and many more. No single industry dominated this area. In recent years, however, a majority of shirts sponsorship deals signed today are associated with betting, with nine out of 20 premier league teams sponsored by betting firms.

Notably, things change fast in sports sponsorship. As these dynamics persist, the only sure prediction is that the deals will continue to grow in size.