Football clubs and those who run them will always endeavour to ways of initiating gain in spite of regulatory legislation.
With UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rulings imposing financial prudence, clubs are seeking new avenues of income to counter the restrictive but necessary regulations. The heart of Financial Fair Play is the concept that a club’s ‘football-related expenditure’ must be assessed in relation to revenue; it is this choice of terminology which clubs are looking to best exploit.
Essentially, ‘football-related expenditure’ is what clubs spend on wages and transfer fees. Any other money spent on academies, stadium improvements or other such ventures is discounted. Perversely, however, this is measured against all forms of income.
Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United, innovative mega deals the ease with which clubs can use the vagueness of the rules to placate UEFA’s rulings.
At Manchester City, the much publicised stadium deal with Etihad Airways has been the subject of much debate in footballing circles, as the eclipsing deal further lengthens the ever-widening disparity between England’s top clubs. Though figures of £400million are somewhat debatable, there is little doubt that the sale of naming rights and sponsorship has gone a long way towards balancing City’s gigantic losses.
Over the past two seasons at White Hart Lane, Tottenham have been playing with separate sponsors split between league and cup competitions. Overall, this is estimated to have brought an estimated £20million in revenue for the club.
In much the same way, you may recently have seen an advertising campaign from DHL proclaiming the company to be Manchester United’s ‘official logistics partner’. Signed at the start of the season, the partnership ensures an additional £10million per year for United with DHL receiving sponsorship rights on training gear.
Each of these three examples highlights an alarming and unnerving trend in the realm of football sponsorship. Increasingly, clubs are attempting to emulate a U.S form of branding which maximises profit potential.
In the United States, limited legislation on sports sponsorship provides opportunities for franchises to benefit from multiple backers.
As UEFA Financial Fair Play pushes clubs to obtain extended forms of income, there is the real risk of English football shifting towards an American style system where multiple sponsorship is common place.