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Sponsoring & Marketing

How Michael Jordan Became a Top PSG Summer Signing

The Champions League shirts from Nike’s Jordan brand might not have brought PSG luck, but they certainly support their income as they are about to hit one million shirt sales per season.

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When Paris Saint-Germain gathered their new assets for the coming seasons last summer, their collaboration with Nike’s Jordan clothing line was already seen as a marketing coup. The creation of their third kit, a black and white classic, was an unprecedented move. For the reknowned Jordan brand logo replaced Nike’s famously-present Swoosh on the clothing. What could have ended up as as a well-intended, yet maybe misguided measure, has indeed helped the club – or rather the brand – PSG flourish. For the first time they’re on course to sell over a million shirts per season as a 470 per cent rise in sales in the US market makes them a fashionable choice over there.

Big personalities make for massive sales

In modern football, kit deals have become an invaluable source for income. First of all, we have the sponsoring, which earns clubs, especially the big ones playing in the Champions League, tens of millions per season. Even more so, since sleeve sponsors started to take over. Furthermore, main sponsors are prepared to pay lager sums with every new sponsorship which opens up opportunities. PSG, in order to comply with UEFA Financial Fairplay, will change the long-lasting Fly Emirates on their chest from next season on. The hotel chain Accor will see its Accor Live Limitless initiative represented in the letters ALL on the french outfit’s chest – and will reportedly pay close to 50 million Euro per season for that.

Apart from sponsorships, selling shirts is, of course, a steady source for revenue. And it takes no wonder that superstars help reach super numbers when it comes to shirt sales. PSG’s policy of buying big in the transfer market pays off in that context, too. The arrivals of Neymar and Mbappé, joining the likes of Cavani, Veratti or Di Maria, have taken those shirt sales to another level. According to Marca, kit sales have increased 80 per cent last season compared to two years back and will grow even more this time. Before the investment from PSG’s current owners, the club sold only about 80.000 kits a season. So the influence of Neymar and Mbappé, who are also two of the most followed people on Instagram, is clear to see. Another confirmation of this effect are numbers related to Juventus Turin’s shirt sales this season, now that they have Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks. As Sportskeeda reportreferring to Tuttorsport –, the Old Lady made 26,51 million Euro in the first half of this season with product sales and licences. At the same time last season, without Ronaldo, the amount was 14,56 million.

PSG X Jordan goes beyond football to strengthen the brand

The motto for the Paris Saint-Germain meets Nike Jordan line is closely related to a celebrity-centred approach. Although a lot of people these days might be more familiar with Nike’s Air Jordan boots than with Michael Jordan himself. Anyway, getting the Nike Jordan brand on board was a shrewd move for PSG. As SportsPro Media report, they will hit one million shirt sales for the first time ever. Merging their yearly expanding football brand, with its superstars on the pitch, Al-Khelaifi’s ongoing investment and their growing number of domestic titles, with something more of a lifestyle and fashion brand has certainly promoted those Champions League shirts to a level where more people will buy and wear it. Even if they’re not that much into football. Because a lot of media icons have already sported the wear, for example NBA star Draymond Green or even Justin Timberlake.

In the US alone, PSG have recorded 470 per cent! more sales of wear of their Nike Jordan line. 40.000 shirts are said to have been sold the weekend after the release.

And PSG are clever enough not to breach a market with unidimensional clothing. Thus, their Champions League shirt is available both in black and white; so hardcore fans can purchase them both. And with prices of 85 and 140 Euro respectively, that will gain them some revenue for sure. The whole clothing range has much more to offer, though. Basketball shirts, which are a proven asset in modern lifestyle, especially for some musicians, jackets, the famous Nike Air shoes, caps and what have you.

Screenshot from the PSG Jordan online store, © Paris Saint-Germain

According to Die WELT, they offer around 90 products and Nike, Jordan and PSG expect to make at least 200 million Euro per year with that line, which will be split between them.

Native brand collaboration cuts it

What PSG have done really well with their Jordan branding is the native way in which the Nike brand was adopted. For the Michael Jordan reminiscence, which is obviously the brand’s logo, does replace Nike’s Swoosh while it strongly resembles the depiction of the Eiffel Tower in PSG’s logo consequently on the shirt. Some might say it’s a bit of a long shot, but it certainly offers the impression of a more native branding approach – as it perfectly reflects the two brands joining forces on the actual kits and all the other products. While some football fans still see PSG as something of a parvenu – whose economical goals will overshadow the club’s and footballing tradition –, the success of that marketing stroke speaks for itself.

However, their unlucky, unexpected and premature exit from the Champions League this season will have cost them some money. And probably will have dented the growing shirt sales curve a bit. It might take time before any football fan can accept these strategies. We’ve come to the days, though, when Michael Jordan, somehow, has become a great acquisition for the football club Paris Saint-Germain. And it’s not a bad idea for other big clubs to copy such cooperations in order to transfer their brand into modern lifestyle. Not every sports traditionalist will like it, yet, every club sales director will. And it might eventually pay for new players, too – who can bolster shirt sales themselves.

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Sponsoring & Marketing

Uber Eats Meets Olympique Marseille: New Brands Take Over Football Sponsorships

Uber Eats is Uber’s relatively young food delivery app. Yet it will be the main sponsor for Olympique Lyon and for the Ligue 1 pretty soon, too. Is a change in the sponsorship landscape about to begin?

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Jägermeister were the first shirt sponsors in Germany, in England betting companies are prevalent and big car manufacturers or airlines are emblazoned on dozens of kits in different leagues across the world. But as the world gets digitised more and more every day, new companies and brands have started to reign in global economies. That is bound to entail a change of sponsors in the football ecosystem, too, which is slowly being more apparent. And it’s nowhere better to be observed than in the Ligue 1 and at Olympique Marseille as Uber Eats is taking over.

Uber Eats offer the money

Right now, the Ligue 1 is officially called the Conforama Ligue 1 and Olympique Marseille had, for a long time, telecommunications company Orange as their shirt sponsor. That is going to change with Marseille sporting the logo of Uber Eats on their kits from the 2019/2020 season on and the Ligue 1 being rebranded as the Uber Eats Ligue 1 from 2020. This investment from Uber’s subsidiary is marking a change in sponsorship in the football ecosystem.

Orange had been one of many telecommunication companies that sponsor teams. They were reportedly paying OL two million Euro per season. That’s according to SportsPro Media. But Uber Eats will put 50 per cent on top of that to make it three million.

While Orange is by no means a yesterday’s company, the emergence of powerful digital players is there to see in the sports sponsorhips now more than ever.

Uber Eats has a lot in common with OM, including its clear digital orientation, a permanent innovation and the desire to communicate with a young audience. We hope this is the beginning of a long and exciting adventure,

said Jacques-Henri Eyraud, president and executive board member at OL. Young audiences might be more interested in Uber or Uber Eats than in brick and mortar stores. The Ligue 1 has been named after Conforama, one of Europe’s biggest home furnishing retail chains, for years. And those naming rights were worth around 10 million Euro per season. But reports emerged, mainly in the French publication Le Courrier du meuble et de L’Habitat, that say Conforama will close 32 stores in France and cut 1,900 jobs. Even though the company and the group behind it are still massive, operators from the digital era are dipping into the sponsorship market, for they have money to spend. Li Figaro reports that Uber Eats will pay 32 million Euro for two years. In an official statement,Didier Quillot, Executive Director of the LFP, said:

This major agreement reflects the new dimension taken by Ligue 1. We are very proud to be able to count on the support of Uber Eats, a major global brand, to support the development of the French championship. From next season, Uber Eats will be present within the league’s sponsorship material; there are some surprises and offers to come along with this. From 2020/2021, the title partnership agreement will represent a major agreement. After its partnership agreements with major US sports franchises, we are very proud that Uber Eats has chosen Ligue 1 as its first European sport partnership with the aim of supporting its development and expansion. We are also particularly pleased to be able to associate Ligue 1 with a very strong brand among young consumers.

Where does Uber Eats get the money and why do they invest in football?

Uber as a mainly digitally grown company is not the first to invest in European football. Rakuten from Japan, one of the ten biggest internet companies, has partnered with the FC Barcelona to feature on their kits, paying them 220 million Euro for four seasons.

Rakuten also sponsor Vissel Kobe in Japan, for instance. And while everyone seems to know Uber, Uber Eats is still more of an unknown entity in Europe. The food delivery platform with its popular app is about to generate at least one billion US dollar in revenue this year, according to Forbes. From this year on, they will collaborate with Uber Elevate, a service to deliver food from the users’ favourite restaurant via drones. Uber Eats is easy to handle for the customer, you can search the app for meals, restaurants, kitchen types or anything like that you favour and just order it. Then you can see how long it will take until it will be at the chosen address and you will see what fare you have to pay for delivery – those are now varying between two and eight US dollars, dependant on distance. Users are even able to track the delivery in real time.

The Uber Eats app in the Google Play Store, © Uber Eats

You don’t have to think too hard to see the connection between a food delivery service in a digitised landscape and their craved viewability in a market, where the service isn’t yet known to everyone, a market like the French football ecosystem. For people tend to watch games in a digital environment as well, if they’re not in the stadium. And Uber Eats actually does know how to capture an audience. Because their YouTube channel has more than 111,000 followers and offers funny videos with sports stars that promote their brand and service alike.

Not the first wave of tech companies as sponsors

In the 90s and the early 2000s, a lot of tech companies sponsored big clubs when those companies were at the pinnacle. Remember Sharp on Manchester United’s chest or JVC sponsoring Arsenal?

What about Samsung being Chelsea’s main sponsor? Libertá Digitale was on Juve’s kit when Zidane was still there and back in the 80s Commodore was clear to see when Bayern Munich entered the field.

Tech companies were apparent in football before. But now, it seems, it’s the time of the digital players and popular apps looking to use the reach of European football to grow their services and user numbers and therefore eventually brand awareness and revenue. The big guns – Google, Facebook, Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Snapchat, TikTok and what have you – haven’t appeared yet, they don’t have to. But don’t be surprised if you see more digital platforms, e-commerce companies or app holders being made sponsor of clubs and getting printed on the kits or even being put just in front of the league’s name. Just like the Uber Eats Ligue 1; sounds as strange as the odd stadium name, but better get used to it.

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Sponsoring & Marketing

World’s First: Forest Green Rovers Reveal Bamboo Kit and Set New Standards

The world’s first climate neutral professional football club, the Forest Green Rovers, get a unique kit made of bamboo in order to reduce plastic.

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They really are something special, the Forest Green Rovers from Nailsworth, England. Not that they are one of the great sides to grace a football pitch, but their ambition, especially off that said pitch is nothing less than remarkable. Named the first UN climate neutral club in the world, the Rovers are now stepping up their sustainability game even more and launch a kit made of bamboo that shall reduce the use of plastic. This move is great for the environment, yet it’s great marketing as well and will surely have more people interested in the kit. And additional awareness and revenue could further enhance the club’s sportive ambitions that are woven into the kit, too.

Forest Green Rovers: Inextricably related to nature

The Foreste Green Rovers will start in England’s fourth tier again next season, after narrowly missing out on promotion. They finished fifth but were beaten by Tranmere Rovers in the play off semis. Thus, the club will surely eye promotion this season, for the aim is to reach the Football League Championship rather sooner than later. That is just what one feature of the new FGR kit tells us. If you look at the back of the new kit, you’ll notice three stars, standing for the Football League divisions from the Championship to League Two, according to the club’s website. One star is coloured, since the Rovers got into the Football League in 2017; two are greyed out, signifying the steps to go.

Stars at the back of the FGR kit, © Forest Green Rovers

The kit itself is inspired by nature. Cult club owner Dale Vince is eager to transform the club into a model for any sports club, when it comes to green sports business. Climate neutrality confirmed by the UN, 100 per cent green energy, completely vegan food and the use of electric vehicles are just a few aspects that make the club so special. We’ve featured them in another article. The club’s aim is to do business in line with nature:

Our aim is to make FGR a place where we can demonstrate eco thinking and technology to a new audience – football fans. Indeed, we believe that we have the opportunity to introduce sustainability to the wider world of sport, not just football. We know that a football club has an impact on the environment, so we’ve implemented an Environmental Management System to measure those impacts and target them for reduction.

In terms of impact, the new kit will be a game changer. Created in cooperation with kit supplier PlayerLayer, it is made of a 50 per cent bamboo mix, with the view to integrate even more natural fabric in the future. Dale Vince said:

We’ve taken inspiration from nature with our new kit – from the zebra stripes to the sustainable materials. I was pretty shocked when I found out that modern sportswear is actually made from plastic – that feels wrong to me, not just from the sustainability point of view, but for performance too. Together with PlayerLayer, we’re making strides towards a new approach for football kit – this year’s 50% Bamboo is a stake in the ground (no pun intended), we plan to move beyond that.  The aim is 100% sustainable high-performance material.

The kit will certainly be an eyecatcher with its zebra look in light green. Additionally, it features the iconic Sea Shepherd skull, since FGR are working together with the NGO closely.

No FGR kit without the Sea Shepherd skull, © Forest Green Rovers

The choice of sponsors is very much in line with the sustainable approach as well. Ecotricity, Vince’s energy company operating with wind and solar energy, is the main sponsor, of course. But the Forest Green Rovers can count Oatly as partners as well, a company that produces plant-based drinks and has risen to some prominence lately. Their logo is also emblazoned on the new shirt.

Oatly features on the shirt, too, © Forest Green Rovers

Roderick Bradley, founder of shirt creator PlayerLayer, emphasised:

We are privileged to work with such a forward thinking, creative and rebellious football club.  We are developing some completely natural fabrics which will change the sports clothing industry forever.

The first rewards for such a bold move are there to see.

Forest Green Rovers as a modern football brand

You cannot compare a forth-tier club like the Forest Green Rovers with a merchandise machine like Manchester United or Real Madrid, with proven winning clubs like Bayern Munich or Juventus Turin. But the Rovers are turning into something of a cult brand in their own right with their unique sustainable approach being the platform for global appreciation.

Maybe the club is one of few where people would rather know the iconic owner than the majority of the players.

And other clubs or sports brands have, of course, also started creating kits that should have a positive impact on the environment. Last season Adidas made parley kits out of plastic from the oceans, recycled wear which was marketed and sold quite well.

In the MLS, a lot of clubs are sporting a parley kit from the German manufacturer these days.

While the brandnew Forest Green Rovers kit is a good start for even more sustainable football clothing, it surely attracts attention among football fans and green thinkers across the world. On the one hand, the shirt will make quite a few entrances in the media. On the other hand, though, it could be a good seller due to its iconic zebra stripe look paired with FGR’s more and more known colours and because of its newness and uniqueness in terms of its fabric. The club say it has already been ordered across the globe – and it’s available anywhere.

With all that in mind, Forest Green Rovers are indeed something special, a club that offers video clips for vegan recipes on the official YouTube channel.

But they also know how to promote another world’s first with their new bamboo kit. As a supporter of the club or maybe only of the approach, you can get greener and get a shirt for free. Because you can win it by choosing Ecotricity and 100 per cent green energy. That shows how Dale Vince does understand the business part of the club; and he mixes that remarkably well with the ecological and sustainable approach of the whole club structure. That work has put the club in more people’s perspective and such awareness will someday be needed in order to monetise fans and grow as a football club that is keen to reach the Championship. But if you can make money, develop your club and still help save the world, you’re bound to be one of the most celebrated clubs on earth – if not on the pitch, at least off it. Credit where it’s due, Forest Green Rovers and PlayerLayer.

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Sponsoring & Marketing

Barça Promoting Own Brand via Mobile Gaming Avatars from Roblox

The FC Barcelona brand is one of the biggest in world football already, but in order to further grow revenue and awareness, it’s incorporated into Roblox gaming avatars now, too.

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The memorability for the classic Barça kit and colours is massive worldwide. But this coming season, Barcelona have, for the first time, shunned their red and blue stripes in favour of a Croatia-esque kit with checkers in those famous colours. With Frankie de Jong and possibly even Antoine Griezmann and Neymar Jr. joining in the summer, the Blaugrana will surely sell millions of shirts and keep their incredible amount of followers and fans engaged on social media or in their own online shop. Nevertheless, opportunities for even more growth will always be there – and Barcelona are taking one of them as they cooperate with online game creation system company Roblox. This specific cooperation will see Roblox users, who can create their very own online and mobile games, being able to equip their digital avatars with the brand new Barça kit. And that means, what once was just kind of a uniform for people playing football and those liking the respective team or club is turning into an unmissable opportunity to create new meanings around it in totally new ecosystems. Gaming and kits do have a great connectivity.

For more brand awareness: Barcelona avatars take over on Roblox

As the FC Barcelona is trying to connect with audiences growing up to online and mobile gaming, they have partnered with Roblox, a digital platform where users – they have over 90 million already – can create their own games. As those players can experience different worlds in a 3D-environment, they can now do so with their avatars sporting the new and somewhat unfamiliar looking Barça shirt. The shirt itself was launched with the slogan ‘Talent takes different shapes’ and shall be reminiscent of Barcelona’s Eixample district where a number of Antoni Gaudí’s famous buildings are located. Dídac Lee, FC Barcelona board member and head of Digital Area, said on the official club website:

We are proud to promote this innovative project that will blaze a trail in the world of football. It will enable us to bring FC Barcelona closer to millions of children and teenagers around the world in a way that is authentic to them, all the while helping to foster their creativity through a unique gaming experience. In the FC Barcelona Digital Area, we firmly believe that the best way to connect and generate engagement with our audience is by creating new communication channels to enable interaction across the digital realm, entertainment and sport. This is the first of many initiatives that we will be presenting shortly.

Roblox, with a mission to unite the (digital) world through gaming, will offer the FC Barcelona avatar bundle from July 9th.

Roblox refer to the uniting character of football and gaming and are thereby looking to turn the admittedly strange sight of gaming avatars in a full football kit into something quite logical:

Together with Barça, we want to inspire players to live like true champions, to achieve greatness as one united community. No matter how far apart we are, football and Roblox bring us together through play. So, get out there and make your dreams a reality.

The sight needs getting used to, but is great branding for FC Barcelona and Rakuten, © Roblox

Gaming and football are closely tied – and branding profits

The FC Barcelona have announced their partnership with Roblox the same month they have extended their a partnership with gaming giants Konami. As part of their collaboration, Lionel Messi will be the cover star of eFootball  PES 2020.

Additionally, Pro Evolution Soccer will be releasing a special Barça version. This one is being made available to fans in order to get both parties more revenue; and in order to get those fans buying the game, they will be given the chance to decide on the cover of this particular game.

Konami, for their part, will have advertisement shown inside the Nou Camp and in several FC Barcelona contexts as well as having access to the players for further marketing ideas. Josep Pont, FC Barcelona Board Member responsible for the Commercial Area, stated the importance of an approach towards eSports:

We are delighted to be able to renew our partnership with KONAMI. Our relationship began three years ago and this new agreement as Global Partners is testament to our shared journey, with clear commitment to the quest for excellence and to such common values as effort, teamwork and respect. It also reinforces our commitment to connecting with fans all around through the e-sports universe.

The growing importance of eSports and gaming is considered for marketing and revenue-driving efforts at many clubs, as Reza Abdolali from blackbird eSports told us in an interview:

We are dealing with a highly networked, young target group, which is also very consumer-friendly and open to new products and services. The fact that games and thus also eSports from the pop and youth culture have become indispensable, makes presence in the eSports sector more and more a ‘mandatory event’ for clubs and advertising companies. A long-term commitment to this area is therefore increasingly being examined by a growing number of companies.

However, clubs should not only tap into eSports for the sake of it, because that might just deter gamers or eSports fans. As Media Chain found out for the UK, the gaming community is very diverse and therefore you have to appraise the audience. The introduction to this study says: “Many brands find it challenging to navigate these audiences due to the cognitive and emotional distance between gaming culture and their marketing teams. Many marketers are guilty of lazily clustering gamers under one banner, creating unsuccessful campaigns built on basic and ineffective insights”. That’s why clubs need to create the right cooperations in a gaming context. The simple idea of selling kits that had been a success on FUT and were actually only a digital asset, was an interesting experiment that had the clubs’ respective brands in the media – and several shirts sold for additional revenue.

Media Chain’s director of gaming, Tom Sweeney, has emphasised in the study that:

Brands, if they haven’t already, will need to start shifting their spend away from programmatic, away from traditional media, and into social content – either creating it themselves, or supporting a creator or channel that the audience is already connected with.

Some have done that by creating marketing opportunities via their eSports connection under their brands. The FC Barcelona has reacted to that by supporting a “channel that the audience is already connected with”, Roblox, and getting their own brand as well as their main shirt sponsor valuable visibility in effect. Eventually, we might have to judge this cooperation later, but the idea of a marketing approach like that is definitely contemporary and leaning towards the demands of modern day digital users. Even the effects of such partnerships that possibly are rather unwanted could help clubs like Barça grow and optimise their own gaming marketing strategy, which will only stand them in good stead for the super football brands’ marketing war that is going on in a digitised world – and increasingly in a gaming context, too.

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Sponsoring & Marketing

Olympique Lyon Initiate Own Music Festival to Further Grow Revenue

French top club Olympique Lyon have partnered with Olympia Production and created OL Production in order to host an annual festival at the Groupama Stadium.

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The Groupama Stadium in Lyon, often better known as Parc OL, can welcome close to 60,000 people. It’s the home of reknown club Olympique Lyonnais – but it is more than that these days. For the club have not only sold the naming rights to the insurance group Groupama for a reported five to seven million Euro per season, but have also opened the stadium for various events in order to augment their revenue. That seems to have worked well already, as record numbers show, yet, a plan’s in place to host an annual music festival at the venue from 2020 on.

A way to explore revenue streams ‘off the pitch’

Football clubs have become some kind of brands that you can get across anywhere. Whether it’s the odd merch, like world travel adaptors with club branding from FC Everton or even lingerie, or the players appearing as ambassadors for a movie from their movie partner.

Branding is an essential element for any football club, because they have to gain revenue, growing revenue, in order to be able to still compete with all the competitors in the league – unless they do have a billionaire owner. But even then the brand is at the centre of attention for those owners. Traditionalits will say a club needs to focus on the sporting integrity and that is more important than ever. Yet, it’s illusionary to regard those clubs as mere sports clubs. They are companies, huge companies, and will strive for growth in every aspect.

That’s an explanation for the newest development at Olympique Lyon and their Groupama Stadium. According to several sources from France and SportsPro Media, the club have now teamed up with Olympia Production to create a distinct company called OL Productions. This very company will be in charge of a music festival, which for the first time shall take place in an around the Groupama in June 2020. The festival shall develop into an annual highlight for music fans. Whilst the ownership is shared between the aforementioned companies, they will choose board members and a a chairman in the near future, before working on the line-up for next year’s inaugural festival. At the moment, there’s no name for the festival, which might follow later this year, when the line-up is announced; and when the tickets go on sale.

Music promises income – Olympique Lyon add it to the stadium experience repertoire

Since clubs are looking for revenue streams apart from the everyday business of their teams, concerts at their stadiums are a proven feature to gain income. Especially in the off-season, during the summer. The Rolling Stones, for instance, were at Old Trafford last summer and thereby granted Manchester United a welcome plus.

And Olympique Lyon have opened their Groupama Stadium for several concerts as well. Phil Collins has been there for his only concert in France this year. Apart from that, the arena is well-used these days. Right now it’s getting ready to host both semi-finals and the final of the ongoing Women’s World Cup.

And the club do monetise the stadium in other ways, too. Of course, they offer stadium tours from nine Euro upwards.

Stadium tour at the Groupama, © Olympique Lyonnais

That’s one part of their immersive experience. But they also offer entrance to the Offside Gallery, art implemented in the stadium. This permanent exhibition from various French artists will lure some art enthusiasts who will have to pay for the experience as well.

Furhtermore, the club give fans or adventurists the opportunity to prove their nous in an escape game right inside the stadium. OL Escape will cost 25 Euro per person at the least.

All these offers will help the club gain additional money. But the festival, which is planned under the guidance of the new company OL Porductions will get them a lot more income during June next year. And who knows, OL Productions might even be used in order to create further branded revenue drivers, more experiences connected to the Olympique Lyon brand or maybe even original series or what have you.

OL have, actually, had record revenue numbers of 228.3 million Euro for the first nine months of the 2018/19 financial year. Especially ticketing and media revenue had hit new heights. But the club are looking for the 400 million barrier as they want to be able to compete with super rich PSG or rivals from England or Spain. In the Ligue 1, Lyon finished third last season and will be in the Champions League qualifiers that will determine how much money they can earn from European competitions next season. Ol were 19 points behind PSG. Yet, their plan for a festival and their OL Productions venture are signs that they strive to become an even bigger brand, known across the globe and earning money from diverse possible streams, be that art, music or football. Thankfully you cannot hide the core business here.

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Konferenz 2019

How to Gain Attention and Monetise in Sports Media with Betting

Winning the battle for attention in the competitive sports media environment is hard – monetising it efficiently is even harder. Is betting the answer? [Sponsored]

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Sports media primarily exists digitally these days and faces two pivotal questions in what’s now a very crowded landscape. How can outlets optimise content to get bigger audiences and how will they monetise that reach and engagement? These questions were at the heart of discussions at the Spielmacher Konferenz 2019 in Hamburg recently, where there were clear indicators of what users are going for – primarily interactive, relevant and up-to-date features on platforms. That’s why betting and its advertising revenue potential is increasingly becoming a major avenue that outlets are exploring.

Dicussing the challenges of a fast-changing digital landscape

Right in the packed speakers’ hall at the conference, a panel consisting of moderator Jonathan Earle from Sportradar, Britta Sölter from Athletia Sports and Maurice Eisterhues from TorAlarm entered the stage to talk about “The Battle & Monetisation of Attention”. At the centre of the debate were some of the difficulties publishers are facing when it comes to capturing attention in an increasingly splintered digital audience. Consequently, Athletia’s Managing Director stated:

Users that are not necessarily into a special kind of sports are the audience that’s hard to engage and the real challenge.

While consistently growing reach and engagement seems a relatively straightforward concept, as Eisterhues knows, its actually anything but. TorAlarm’s Managing Director, understands better than most the challenges of getting people to use apps consistently, noting:Organic growth is decreasing from year to year, so what we‘ve started to invest in is marketing efficiency and targeted promotion.”

Marketing is specifically crucial to TorAlarm’s strategy because user behaviour regarding the journey to apps has changed. With live scores and results apps readily available for football, they need to find other features to enable a unique user experience as well as innovating when it come to monetisation. Starting with marketing opportunities is a shrewd move, as is the use of data and algorithms to match user behaviour with appropriate advertising content. “We’ve got premium ads, programmatic ads and sports betting advertising and we’re working with different bookmakers,” said Eisterhues in response to Earle’s assertion that “betting could be a major driver for media going forward”.

Sportradar’s Customer Director for Sports Media also noted that betting solutions and ads are proving increasingly popular options for publishers and rights holders when it comes to monetising and engaging with users, as it offers the interactive, real-time element increasingly being sought after in a second-screen-focused landscape.

Sportradar’s Jonathan Earle

The younger generation is a FIFA first, players second and clubs far behind-generation.


Go for platforms, go for betting

Using platforms to drive growth is something the agency and publisher 433 place a big focus on. Their CCO Floris Weisz was on stage prior to the aforementioned panel and, like Lee Walker from fellow media outlet Bleacher Report, he emphasised the possibilities that still remain on social media even in the era of fake news and reduced organic growth.

433 have 35 million followers in total, only invest on Facebook and don’t own media rights.

“Let’s go where the users are,” that’s Weisz’ motto, not too different from Walker’s “need vs feed” approach.

Floris Weisz talked about the importance of platforms on stage, © Jan Axmann (for Spielmacher)

So you need to get onto the platforms that matter to your organisation – be they Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Twitch or YouTube. According to Sölter, you need to have a content strategy that “makes people enjoy interacting with your content”.

Interaction is key for those football fans who like the thrill of betting and, if sports media outlets use betting data themselves, they can make informed decisions and rely on user data to create new targeting options or build storylines, just as Jason Sukhraj, SVP of Business Development at Sportradar US, recently suggested at FanVest.

Sports betting in media is definitely on the rise

Betting is also more than just an option for audience-tailored advertising solutions and is increasingly being used for content creation in the digital media landscape. As Variety reports, both ESPN and Turner’s Bleacher Report will launch production studios to create betting-related content while NBC has a betting program for its mobile app, with David Preschlack, president of NBC Sports Regional Networks, quoted as saying:

The market is going to be made up of more casual bettors. We feel the big opportunity here is to use sports betting to raise the entertainment value of sports programming.

Using betting as a factor to enable not just monetisation but engagement with sports and content is clearly becoming a trend in 2019 and that looks set to continue in the years to come. That’s one key strand to emerge from this year’s Spielmacher Konferenz as well as other similar industry-leading events.

According to Zion, the global sports betting market will reach a value of 155,49 billion US dollars by 2024, meaning financial growth is set to continue hand-in-hand with this landscape shift.

As a publisher or rights holder, the option to integrate betting ads in a user-centric way or even create betting-related content, which can be shared on various platforms, could be the cure for many of the sport media landscape’s current predicaments.

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Rules of Engagement: How Sportradar is Using Data to Drive Monetisation for Sports Media Outlets

Sports media are getting more diverse due to digitisation, but offer more opportunities to monetise. Data driven betting, especially in-play, could multiply revenue for media. [Sponsored]

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When we consume sports, we’re no longer tied to a few television broadcasting times. Due to OTT services, livestreaming and more and more social media content we can watch our favourite team or the most interesting competitions like the Champions League or the Premier League in various ways – and on different devices, too.

And, as sports fans increasingly turn away from watching alone, media houses and publishers need to offer additional content for users to engage with. Betting is one key engagement and revenue driver that many outlets have focused on, with its opportunities only growing in a digitised world.

A second screen-centred landscape is perfectly suited for match-related interactions like in-play betting. Sportradar is a market-leading supplier of live sports data and betting services, meaning they can help both publishers and bookmakers stand out in a crowded landscape, providing new monetisation routes for media outlets and operators while offering bettors a more personalised experience.

© Sportradar

On the Radar

The online betting space has grown and become increasingly technological in recent years, with in-play and personalised odds revolutionising the industry. The global sports betting market is expected to grow to 155 billion US dollars by 2024 although at the same time, the modern sports media landscape has grown increasingly difficult for many of the traditional publishers.

Via its betting arm Betradar, Sportradar powers some of the biggest bookmakers around the world with products such as Managed Trading Services – its holistic turnkey solution that allows operators to boost operations and drive higher margins, turnover and profits.

Furthermore, alongside live data and trading products, Sportradar provides live streaming channels to drive user engagement as well as its marketing solution ad:s, which helps streamline advertising spend by targeting sponsorship more efficiently for bookmakers.

To understand  more about why football, betting and digital media are such a good fit, we interviewed Sportradar’s Customer Director for Sports Media, Jonathan Earle, and learned that betting enjoys a key position in the sports media monetisation strategy and also that cross-device marketing and live betting are growth drivers.

The interview

Spielmacher: What’s the outlook for sports media publishers in the current landscape?

Jonathan Earle: To put it simply, life is tough. Traditional publishers don’t have the monopoly on readers’ attention spans in the way they used to and while newspapers, television and radio could put their feet up back in the day, now they have competition from all sides.

Whether it’s big media titans like Amazon or Facebook, or it’s an amateur publisher churning out clips and GIFs – publishers in the middle are struggling to attract audiences and therefore not making the money they used to. That said, there are still viable avenues to monetise sports content and betting is an option many publishers are turning to.

Spielmacher: Betting and sports like football have always been closely tied. But do modern reception habits like second screening boost additional opportunities for generating revenue from digital gambling providers?

Jonathan Earle: Second-screen habits provide great opportunities for betting operators to drive engagement with audiences and bettors. However, it’s always a case of quality rather than quantity and making sure the second-screen content is relevant, timely and engaging. We believe in the use of sports data to help drive personalised content and therefore fan engagement, while market data and expertise is the key to ensuring advertising and marketing efforts are targeted at the right audiences.

Also, you have the continued growth of AI and as that continues to develop and become more mainstream, what we’ll see is a consistent move towards automated, personalised content that allows publishers to monetise their content and bookmakers to target their advertising more effectively.

Spielmacher: Are services like digital livestreaming and OTT major engagement drivers for bettors as they’re often received on devices you can directly place a bet from?

Jonathan Earle: Livestreaming, OTT and other additional content components can help operators and publishers satisfy their audience’s needs for more information, entertainment and match visualisation. In a betting context, it also helps provide more of an incentive for punters to follow the match action live – thereby staying on a site or app for longer and, most likely, being more engaged and betting more. It can also help enhance punter loyalty in what’s an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Spielmacher: Have betting and gambling become more of a widespread activity with a bigger digital variety of media offering?

Jonathan Earle: What we have seen as a result of the proliferation of digital and Social Media is a more varied and developed approach to betting offerings as well as a greater focus on personalisation and engagement in terms of marketing and advertising. The age of online and digital has not only increased competition in terms of the battle for attention – both with regards to publishers and betting operators – it’s also given both industries the scope to be increasingly creative with their marketing.

Whether you’re talking about media providers using gamified tools like InHabit or operators coming up with quirky ‘request a bet’ style offers, the opening up of the digital space has really forced both operators and outlets to adapt or suffer the consequences.

Spielmacher: How important is it to give users a personalised experience in the gambling context?

Jonathan Earle: Personalisation is a common theme across most industries and the gambling sector is no different. Not only do bettors want to see advertising that’s relevant to their interests or passions, bookmakers want their marketing spend to work for them. It’s why we created ad:s – the concept of not just using sports data to engage with fans but also knowledge of the market to bring relevant and timely advertising to audiences.

Spielmacher: What are the most important preconditions to enable a seamless betting experience for the user? Is cross-device marketing a proven asset in order to provide them with the right offer?

Jonathan Earle: There are three key aspects when it comes to ensuring a seamless and professional betting experience. Firstly, you need to ensure there is a clear and straightforward registration process so you’re not asking people to jump through hoops to sign up. Tied into that is the need for attractive sign-up benefits and bonuses – especially in what is an increasingly crowded marketplace. Finally, an attractive user interface is obviously really key, so that you ensure the betting experience is as slick and efficient as possible.

Cross-device marketing is the most effective avenue for engaging with bettors, as you have the ability to reach bettors at the most relevant touchpoints to them.

Spielmacher: Are live data the main ingredients for the creation of betting opportunities? What are the best ways to transfer these to users, so that they stay engaged?

Jonathan Earle: Live, in-play betting is proven to provide more engagement opportunities for operators as well as increased markets for games, teams and individual players – something that’s proven incredibly popular in the more established markets. It’s also beginning to prove popular in some of the legalised states in the US already, with New Jersey recording a high percentage of in-play.


Thanks so much for the interview, Jonathan.

Taking betting and its different opportunities for engagement into consideration for sports media revenue growth is certainly worth considering. In fact, it’s not really a gamble at all, is it?

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The Curious Case of the Newcastle United Takeover – Transformation of a Football Club?

Newcastle United are in talks for a possible takeover by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a relative of Man City’s owner Sheikh Mansour. Would that change the club completely?

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It’s been 64 years, since Newcastle United last won a major trophy. But the traditional club from the northeast of England could be about to fight for honours again in the near future. That’s if they are indeed, as reports suggest, taken over by the super-rich Bin Zayed Group from the UAE. Some fans imagine a golden future, some react with amusement. But if the sale of the club by Mike Ashley is completed, the Bin Zayed Group will almost certainly not be content with a mid-table finish or relegation fights in the future – and therefore they will invest. That could change the whole Premier League landscape yet again.

Man City and PSG are examples of takeover power from the Middle East

The riches of Manchester City and PSG, both back-to-back champions in their respective countries and having some of the planet’s best players in their ranks, seem to be nearly immeasurable at times. Yet, before these clubs were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group Investment & Development Limited or Qatar Sports Investments, with Mansour and Al-Khelaifi behind those groups, they were barely top-class. In 2007, City failed to score a goal at home for five months, nearly ending up being relegated. PSG on the other hand were extremely close to relegation as well in 2008, only confirming their ongoing Ligue 1 status on the final day of that season.

All that is so very different now. And Newcastle United, only back in the top flight since 2017, could experience something similiar, who knows. Owner Mike Ashley, who is widely disliked, could finally be selling the club. According to a statement from the Bin Zayed Group, attained by the Newcastle Chronicle, the deal is as good as done as an agreement over a 350 million pound transaction is apprently in place.

Terms have been agreed between us and Mike Ashley; these terms have been reflected in a document, signed by both parties, which has been forwarded to the Premier League. The proof of funds statement was forwarded to Mike Ashley’s lawyers on 17 April 2019. The so called fit-and-proper Premier League process is a standard procedure which will take time, and we are doing all we can to assist the Premier League during this process. We feel the need to clarify this point in order for the fans and the general public to understand the timelines.

Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is behind the Bin Zayed Group, is a member of the Al Nahyan ruling family of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. He also is a billionaire, obviously, and a cousin of the Man City owner Sheik Mansour. Talksport estimates his net worth to be around 118 billion pounds. As of now, Newcastle United haven’t commented on the possible takeover, but it looks very likely at the moment. But what would it mean for the football ecosystem in the UK?

No more top 6?

The Premier League has had an established top six for years now: Tottenham Hotspur, FC Liverpool, FC Chelsea, Arsenal London, Manchester United and Manchester City. Unless miraculous things happen, just like in 2016, when Leicester won the league, those teams take up the places in the top four and top six. Some argue that Man City and Chelsea have bought their way in, but in thruth all these clubs have big amounts of money to spend, not least due to their owners or merchandising machines. Other clubs have tried to break into that circle and invested heavily, just look at Everton. But that hasn’t worked too well hitherto.

If Newcastle United are bought for 350 million pounds, only the Man United takeover by the Glazer family will have been more expensive in the Premier League. And the Magpies could be set for a major overhaul in the coming years in terms of staff, management and players. The club would probably like to keep hold of experienced manager Rafael Benítez, who also knows how to win trophies. But they’d surely splash some cash on new players, who could be lured by a bigger pay package than at other clubs or in other leagues. Newcastle only broke their transfer fee record in January, when they bought Miguel Almirón for 21 million pounds – nearly a laughable sum for the big spenders these days. And some fans, although rather ironically, are already thinking of entering the transfer market for the biggest talent there is.

What seems like a rather unlikely scenario now might well turn out to be not as unrealistic as it seems. If Sheik Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is out to transform Newcastle United into a contender in the Premier League, equal to Man City, he would need to splash the cash and drive developments. Who would have thought in 2008, when Chelsea and Man United contested the Champions League final and were an the pinnacle of their power, that only 11 years later City would have won ten major honours in English football? In truth, Newcastle could go the same way, because money does talk in this system.

Al Nahyan had apparently tried to buy the FC Liverpool a few years back, but failed. Maybe Newcastle United will be his springboard for success in the modern football world.

The possible shift: Traditional club to superpower?

Hard to imagine it is, Newcastle United fighting for Champions League glory in a few years – if it’s not on FIFA. But such power shifts can happen. The saying that you cannot buy success is only partly true. Big amounts of money do not guarantee success. Manchester United for example, just like AC Milan recently, haven’t spent their money wisely and paid the price, falling down in the rankings of European top clubs, while other clubs are thriving. If Newcastle were to be put into a transforming era, they need to put the money from their eventual new owners in the right places and start building something with deliberation. Because that will rather yield success on the pitch than a buy-it-all-win-it-all approach. It will also make for a better perception of the club. For Newcastle United with all their history and a big and passionate fanbase, would need to make sure that they don’t scare off their supporters by becoming all too fancy. Sure, those fans would like to be back in the Champions League and be rivals to the big teams again. But there’s no flip switch to make that happen – and there should never be.

Will the takover happen? We don’t know, but probably it will. And will that transform the Magpies, make them a big team and change the preconditions in the Premier League in the years to come, will maybe even more super-rich investors go to take over other clubs from England? Maybe. Thankfully we cannot really predict what will happen in football. As fans, we’re still happy to witness breakthrough stories like Sean Longstaff’s.

But we’re also deeply impressed by new records and beatiful football, like Man City are providing them. The future of Premier League football and football in Europe is determined by a balance of great financial backing and a sense for the essential elements of the game. Passion, honesty, fight, they can be forgotten over money, but never should be. Fans will appreciate both. And maybe the Magpies’ fans will be cheering a successful and passionate team in the near future. But winning constantly is about power and nous, something you cannot buy in the short term. So let’s see who prevails in the long term, getting the balance right. And let’s not forget that exceptional people make success possible, like Guardiola, Messi, Sterling, Salah, Allegri, Löw in his prime, Ranieri, Vardy and Co. Yet, more often than not, money will be a factor for them, too. Interesting times for the Toon Army and anyone else in love with football.

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Football’s Richest: Revenue Isn’t Just Tied to Success

Real Madrid have overtaken Manchester United, who announced astonishing earnings, as the world’s most valuable football brand despite both clubs having had disastrous seasons.

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Any football club has to be led like a company these days. From an economical point of view, it’s not just about the teams or players, but very much about the brand. And new findings show that success on the pitch is not always neccesary in order to be accounted for the most valuable brands in football, as Man Utd and Real Madrid show. They do of course have the luxury of being able to rely on their titles and star players. But it’s also their branding that makes them flourish financially.

Real Madrid become the most valuable football brand

Brand Finance publishes the Football 50 report annually and lists the most successful brands in the ecosystem. Real Madrid have this year overtaken Manchester United to become 2019’s most valuable brand in football, with an estimated worth of 1,646 billion Euro. Bryn Anderson, director at Brand Finance, explains:

Real Madrid have shown this year who truly reigns supreme in the world of football. They triumph not only as the most valuable and strongest brand but their enterprise value and stadium are also ranked second to none. The most successful club in the history of European football is finally reaping the benefits of decades of spectacular on- and off-pitch performance.

The Spanish giants are actually still the reigning Champions League winners – until 1 June. But their recent season has been quite terrible for their standards, being knocked out of every competition bar the Club World Cup and having had no real chance for the La Liga title. While the Spanish champions FC Barcelona sit third in Brand Finance’s rankings, Manchester United are still second, with an estimated worth of 1,472 billion Euro.

But their recent failings on the pitch have not only made them fall off top spot, but also lose worth. They haven’t gone on to win anything, since Mourinho gave them the Europa League success in 2017 – and their last league title came in 2013 under Sir Alex Ferguson and is a distant memory now. Their latest campaign has been rather miserable, apart from the women’s success.

United also slipped to fourth in the strongest brands ranking behind Bayern Munich. Despite their poor form on the pitch and the costs of sacking José Mourinho in December, the club still announced earnings of nearly 500 million pounds for the financial year ended 31 March. The brand is so poweful that both commercial and broadcasting revenue brought in more than 200 million pounds in that period. The third quarter 2019 alone saw them earn just over 150 million pounds. Such sucess is strengthened by lucrative new partnerships, for instance with Marriott or Maui Jim.

United executive vice chairman, Ed Woodward, says that the club will help the new manager in restoring success on the pitch as well:

After a turbulent season, everyone at Manchester United is focussed on building towards the success that this great club expects and our fans deserve. Preparations for the new season are underway and the underlying strength of our business will allow us to support the Manager and his team as we look to the future.

Premier League dominates brand value rankings

England’s first tier, the Premier League, accounts for 43 per cent of total brand value. The league has 17 entrants in Brand Finance’s top 50. Even the promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers have jumped ahead of Ajax Amsterdam, Celtic Glasgow or the FC Sevilla in terms of brand value. Six of the ten strongest brands and most valuable brands are from England: the Premier League’s traditional top six.

Strongest and most valuable brands in football, © Brand Finance

The biggest winners in brand value change in total numbers are Real Madrid (+349 million Euro), FC Liverpool (+199 million Euro), PSG (+161 million Euro) and Manchester City (+158 million Euro). Still, the biggest growth can be attributed to the FC Sevilla, a club that grew brand value by 49,1 per cent. Other clubs in that listing are SSC Napoli (36,3 per cent) or even the FC Southampton (32,4 per cent).

While the report from Brand Finance gives a comprehensive overview regarding the brand value of football clubs, it also shows that England does have the highest value, but second-placed Spain is only slightly ahead of Germany.

Brand value by country, © Brand Finance

Next in line are Italy and France, but the value of all the countries behind that accounts for only a fraction of the leading contenders.

A lot of other factors are presented in the report, explaining that Borussia Dortmund are number one for the Matchday Experience, while Bayern Munich are best in the category broadcaster and partner appeal. Fan perceptions are also quoted, showing that some people like Barcelona for their “cool branding“, whereas others favour PSG for having their favourite player in their ranks. The Brand Finance report elucidates how money talks in football these days – even if you’re not successful on the pitch for some time. However, the enormous amounts of money that the biggest club brands generate will probably give the not so unreasonable impression that there will be an ever growing imbalance in the financial powers of football leagues and clubs. Yet, it’s nice to reckon that clubs like the 1.FC Nuremberg, AS Saint-Étienne or Newcastle United are mentioned in the same breath as Manchester United, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, when it comes to history and heritage.

Values, which shouldn’t be forgotten whilst growing the club revenue. For a brand, success is everything. For a football club, though, there is more.

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Global Rights Holders Miss Out on 16 Billion Euro Sponsorship Money

The global sports sponsorhip market will grow to 41 billion Euro in 2019. But due to outdated rights packages, a further 16 billion remain unrealised revenue.

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Sponsorships are an undeniable pillar of the sports ecosystem. Football clubs around the world rely on deals with companies that ensure revenue, while those brands expect to gain viewability. These synergy effects simply cannot be underestimated regarding the growth of clubs, leagues or associations. Therefore, sponsorhip opportunities are leveraged more and more emphatically. Be it sleeve sponsors on shirts or branding on training wear. Now, a report shows the ongoing growth of sponsorhip value, but points to missed opportunities as well. While there are threats to sponsorhip income, data could lead the way to more spend eventually.

16 billion Euro: The amount that rights holders are missing

Once, sponsoring used to be rather easy. A company wanted to be connected to a specific sports team, athlete, league etc. and paid an agreed sum in order to be seen, with their logo sported on shirts, shown on perimeter boards or what have you. Actually, in football it’s still extremely important to be seen on a kit or inside the stadium. But the opportunities have become much more differentiated. The viewability is there, if your company features on the shirt twice.

Furthermore, brands are integrated into apps, for example, to present starting line-ups or substitutions. They also need to be seen on Social Media or in the context of the various other outlets of clubs.

In a way, sports clubs and even leagues have to carry a self-image as brands rather than sports consortia and will need to grow revenue every single year to stay competitive. That seems even more important, since super rich investors put some proportions in the football ecosystem off the balance. So, sponsorhip deals are greatly important to clubs like the FC Barcelona – who earn 55 million Euro a season from kit sponsor Rakuten alone – and SC Freiburg as well, who get just over 2,5 million a year from Schwarzwaldmilch. Barcelona will even receive 1,5 million Euro extra from Rakuten for winning La Liga and could pocket another 5 million if they win the Champions League – which doesn’t seem unlikely at the moment. Thus, the Spanish giants contribute a lot to the 41 billion Euro, which Two Circles have anticipated will be gained by global rights holders in 2019 as sponsorhip revenue in the sports universe. This will mean the revenue will grow by four per cent. Yet, Two Circles estimate that a staggering 16 billion Euro more could be gained – if it wasn’t for outdated rights packages.

Modern standards will have to be set for sponsorhip packages

The brand spend for sponsorships in sports has grown steadily over the years and will reach about 58 million Euro in 2024. But the unrealised sponsorship value is growing, too.

Two Circles estimate that the global rights holders’ packages are actually worth 57 billion Euro this year. That means 16 billion of worth are not leveraged. Gareth Balch, Two Circles’ CEO, explains:

Most rights-holders continue to package and sell sponsorship just as they did 20 years ago – offering brand exposure through linear broadcast coverage as the main benefit for brands. Globally we’re spending more time consuming entertainment on digital platforms; we consistently see a disparity between what brands need to reach an audience effectively and quantifiably, and what digital assets rights-holders are able to offer in their sponsorship packages.

Therefore, the company have found that the rights holders have underachieved financially, not leveraging the potential of 14 billion Euro a year on average ever since 2014.

In order to take advantage of that huge financial potential, rights holders like clubs and leagues will need to factor more aspects into their sponsorship plans, such as Social Media or OTT reach. Additionally, it could be worthwile to lure new kinds of brands to the sponsorship table in the long term. For the sponsors pie right now – at least in the UK – is pretty much dominated by proven players such as financial services (19 per cent), automotive (14 per cent), airline (13 per cent), gambling (12 per cent), alcohol (9 per cent) or soft drinks (7 per cent). Other categories account for 26 per cent.

But there might be changes in the sponsorhip landscape sooner rather than later, if you look at the UK. Mind you, some gambling companies plan to restrict their marketing on football kits, during broadcasting and on perimeter boards – and they demand that other companies follow suit.

Gambling operators have a key role to play in protecting people from harm and identifying potentially risky betting behaviour,

said UK’s Gambling Minister Mims Davies MP. If gambling was excluded from main sponsorhips, the UK sports market with its rights holders would suffer straight away, you may reckon. Yet, it would also open up new possibilities to integrate new brands for which it might have become more lucrative to sponsor sports teams these days. To find out which brands are a good fit, clubs and leagues alike turn to up-to-date data measurement. Balch says:

Rights-holders are adapting to this new world and we predict a sports sponsorship correction: by embracing the power of data and digital to create sponsorship assets that better satisfy the objectives of brands, rights-holders will realise the true value of their sponsorship businesses. This will drive greater spend from brands in all sectors, not just the ‘traditional’ sectors for sport such as financial services, automotive, airlines and gambling.

His stance cannot be too surprising, given Two Circles offer sponsorship measurement solutions as well.

Taking advantage of altered circumstances

But brands can indeed leverage the power of data to determine whether sponsoring a certain club would be worth it. Even for Twitch, a coming platform for different sports, mainly eSports, but football as well, there are new measurement solutions these days.

So, sponsorship spend does grow, but it could grow even bigger. And while in sports it shouldn’t be the ultimate goal to just earn as much money as you can, this somehow is the big incentive for competitive brands. That’s why more sponsorhip opportunities will arise. A new kind of reception, a whole new level of sports wear and merch and more and more different international audiences offer the chance to augment sponsorship income in the long term. Data will help assess the approach and findings like the study from Two Circles certainly could be regarded as an incentive for rights holders and brands alike. Will all those sponsorhips bear down the sports experience somehow? Maybe; but we’re all part of it and we as the sports audiences create that space where billions of sponsorship money are spent to keep the sports ecosystem intact.

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Will Betting Sponsors be Banned from Shirts in the UK?

A group owning betting powerhouses Ladbrokes and Coral calls for betting sponsorships to stop during broadcasting and on clubs’ shirts in the UK. That would change the sponsorship landscape dramatically.

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Betting is a big part of football, especially in the UK. The number of shirts, on which we can see betting companies as main sponsors, is telling. Now the GVC Holdings, that owns reknowned bookmaker Ladbrokes, puts more effort in its initiative Changing for the Bettor in order to tackle the problem of gambling. Therefore, betting sponsorships on shirts or perimeter boards in the British Premier League and Footbal League shall be banned. Is that proposition really realisable, given the stranglehold of the industry on sponsorhips?

So many main sponsors in the Premier League are betting companies

Betting companies are widespread sponsors across the football ecosystem. In the Bundesliga, only Hertha BSC sport such a company on their match kits and in La Liga we see Marathonbet on Málaga’s shirts. On the perimeter boards, betting companies are also ever present. But it’s in the UK, that the connection is particularly salient. The Premier League and the Football League Championship are dominated by betting sponsors shirt-wise. In the Premier League, it’s nine from 20 teams, in the Championship an astonishing 17 from 24 that have a betting partner on their chest: Bet365, 32Red, Betfred, 888 Sport, Dafabet, LeoVegas, Betway and the list goes on. The FC Burnley are one on several clubs sporting a betting company on their kits.

Additionally, Sky Bet is sponsoring England’s second, third and fourth tier. Youth teams are not allowed to wear such logos as those of betting companies. Still, a bad influence is assumed by some. At the start of this season, Gambling Watch UK’s Professor Jim Orford was quoted by FootyHeadlines:

There is evidence that gambling is becoming ever more normalised, particularly among young people, so that increasingly betting is seen as part and parcel of following and supporting one’s favourite sport or team. Many people think gambling is now out of control in Britain which has the most liberal online gambling regulations of any European country.

The correlation of betting and football has become common, even professional football players have placed bets more often than they should have in the past. As the debate about this relation goes on, both GVC, that owns Ladbrokes, Coral and Gala, and William Hill are considering a change, when it comes to marketing for betting in sports. According to the BBC, they will both stop football shirt sponsorhips, while GVC will stop perimeter advertising. Moreover, the company, which in January launched its Changing for the Bettor initiative, wants betting companies to stop advertising in sports altogether. At the time, GVC’s Director of Responsible Gaming, Grainne Hurst, said:

Whilst the vast majority of our customers enjoy playing with us in a safe and fun environment we are aware that for some players, gambling can impact their lives negatively. We are committed to leading the industry in minimising potential harm caused by problem gambling. That is why we are today launching Changing for the Bettor and have partnered with Harvard faculty at the Division on Addiction to help us to better understand and tackle the issues around problem gambling.

The UK’s Gambling Minister Mims Davies MP said:

Gambling operators have a key role to play in protecting people from harm and identifying potentially risky betting behaviour.

The first of them are taking a new route. But will others follow suit to tackle the problem, even if it means missing out on a fair amount of views and potentially losing brand awareness?

The UK’s betting problem is getting worse with young people

In 2016, the British National Health Service (NHS) said that 42 per cent (56 if you included National Lottery participants) of the population in England were into gambling. Numbers cited more recently saw about 430.000 problem gamblers in the UK. A new study by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) found that nearly 55.000 children between eleven and 16 years of age have gambling issues, while about 450.000 are into betting activities. On average 16 pound per week are spent for that, despite betting not being allowed for people under 18.

As a first reaction, the UK will ban any advertisement for betting from child-friendly websites or online games. And now, football as one of the main media events not only in the UK, but worldwide, could be next in line, when it comes to ptrotecting young people – but not only them – from being confronted with more betting brands. Besides such negative effects, though, the gross gambling yield (GGY) of the Great Britain gambling industry was 14,4 billion pounds in the year from April 2017 to March 2018; and those numbers will only have grown. That means that the gambling and betting companies do make a lot of money in England, Scotland etc. And will they follow GVC’s lead, if they’re not forced to? Because that could well mean a decrease in revenue, albeit mingled with the good conscience of being more responsible.

One question remains: who does have the responsibility in terms of protecting people from developing gambling problems? It cannot be argued that it is the betting companies’ fault alone simply for being there. But their stranglehold in British football and sports sponsoring certainly reproduces the overcome idea of a correlation of football and betting for the worse. Thus, ending it smoothly might be the right call from the companies themselves. Because regulation could be around the corner, anyway. If that happens, a lot of clubs in British football would have to look for new main sponsors on their shirts, though. But that could be a lucrative competition for viewability eventually. And some new brands might surface in the Premier League or the Football League more prominently. Therefore, this whole debate unites potential and economical fears. It will be exciting to monitor those developments off the pitch in the months and years to come.

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