Sponsorship overview 2023/24


Which football club is making the most money out of sponsorships?

In the world of football, where passion meets prowess on the pitch, the influence of sponsorships is a phenomenon that fuels the game's global appeal. From the iconic emblems adorning team jerseys to the dazzling stadium displays, football sponsorships have evolved into a crucial financial lifeline for clubs, players, and even the sport itself.

With the 2023/24 season having kicked off in some leagues, Football Benchmark has curated a comprehensive roundup on the football sponsorship landscape, featuring notable recent developments such as the Manchester United FC and adidas partnership extension, an overview of the kit suppliers in the "Big Five" leagues, as well as an analysis of the most lucrative main shirt sponsor deals.

Continuing the legacy: Manchester United and adidas extend their partnership

Manchester United confirmed their appeal and global influence by sealing the largest kit deal in the history of the Premier League (EPL), marking a significant milestone for both the club and adidas, the renowned German kit manufacturer. The 10-year extension of their partnership amounts to a minimum of GBP 900m/EUR 1.06 billion (equivalent to EUR 106 million per year, compared to the current deal's EUR 88 million).

By comparison, Chelsea's similar GBP 900m/EUR 1.06 billion deal with Nike signed in 2016 covered a longer, 15-year period starting from 2017, hence the annual amount is significantly lower. The Blues and FC Bayern München are the only clubs on the list with a 15-year deal, followed by PSG whose kit supplier agreement runs 13 years; all other top clubs either have a 10-year deal or shorter.

Manchester United's latest annual report revealed that the previous agreement with adidas included a performance-based element, with a portion of yearly payments being tied to the club's participation to the prestigious UEFA Champions League (UCL), so that in the event of two consecutive seasons without UCL qualification, a 30% annual reduction would take effect. According to media reports, this clause may still be in place in the new agreement.

Despite scoring a remarkable improvement on the current contract, the Reds are still behind Spanish giants Real Madrid CF, who record a sum of EUR 120m annually from the same manufacturer.

Nike and adidas front-runners in kit supplier deals

With an impressive count of 15 deals secured in the prestigious "Big Five" leagues for the upcoming season, adidas has firmly established itself as the leading kit supplier, slightly ahead of Nike (with 14 clubs) and Puma (12). Despite being close to Puma in terms of number of deals, when considering the monetary value of these deals it becomes evident that both adidas and Nike are significantly ahead of the competition. Indeed, the combined annual value of deals featuring Nike and adidas is more than three times that of the combined value of the other eight brands making the top 10.

Taking the fourth spot is British manufacturer Umbro, back on the field after a few years of absence and boasting eight deals. Umbro's annual financial commitment stands at EUR 14.3 million, distributed among five Premier League teams – the most in the English top flight – two in Ligue 1 and one in LaLiga.  On the other hand, Hummel, while holding just five deals – one in the EPL, two in Bundesliga and two in LaLiga—achieved an investment of EUR 21.2 million this year, higher than Macron, Joma, Castore and Umbro itself, all having more clubs than the Danish manufacturer in their portfolio.

Kit suppliers in the "Big Five" leagues

In the English Premier League, an impressive eight clubs wear local British brands Umbro and Castore. Notably, the prestigious "Big Six" of the EPL have opted for iconic names such as Nike and adidas, with Manchester City standing out through their partnership with Puma.

LaLiga introduces two of the most lucrative kit sponsorship deals in football, with both Real Madrid's adidas and FC Barcelona's Nike partnerships – worth EUR 120m and EUR 105m, respectively – setting high standards in their own market and worldwide. Notably, only two clubs in the Spanish first division, Villarreal CF and Getafe CF, are currently partnering with local Spanish brands.

With the country boasting several popular sportswear brands, it is surprising that “only” seven clubs don domestic labels in the German Bundesliga. Perhaps more puzzling, globally renowned German brand adidas sponsors merely two teams, namely FC Bayern München and 1. FC Union Berlin, with their biggest rivals, Nike, sponsoring four. Besides adidas, the other German brands represented in the league are Puma (with three clubs) and Jako (two).

Italian Serie A stands out as the league with the highest number of different kit suppliers, an impressive total of 12, and boasts a striking 11 clubs adorned in national brands, the most among the "Big Five" leagues. Furthermore, SSC Napoli's deal with fashion brand Emporio Armani is particularly unique in the "Big Five" leagues.

In the upcoming Ligue 1 season, OGC Nice stand out as the sole team to partner with a local French brand, Le Coq Sportif, while all other teams have chosen to embrace foreign kit manufacturers. Overall, the French first division will feature a total of 11 diverse kit supplier brands.

Main shirt sponsors: usual suspects

There is no surprise on the list of the most valuable main shirt sponsor deals, as the usual suspects make the top 10: LaLiga giants, the EPL powerhouses, and the biggest names from the other "Big Five" leagues: Bayern München, PSG and Juventus; the only difference with the top 10 by kit supplier is from Tottenham Hotspur FC having replaced Chelsea, who, at the time of writing, are still in the market for finding a main shirt sponsor.

It is important to highlight that the league in which clubs compete plays a significant role in shaping this list. First, each club in the top 10 belongs to the "Big Five" leagues, with the English Premier League boasting five representatives; furthermore, some sponsors are tied to the club’s ownership and its country of origin, as observed in the cases of Juventus FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC.

Shifting dynamics: Adapting to gambling partnership ban and new sponsorships

The English Premier League made a decisive move to ban gambling brand partnerships starting from the 2026/27 season. Consequently, several clubs, including Newcastle United FC and Fulham FC, have taken proactive measures by parting ways with previous partners. Another exogenous factor pushing clubs to hit the market was online car retailer Cazoo taking the decision to terminate most of its sports deals in Europe; consequently, the likes of Aston Villa, Freiburg, Lille, Valencia, and Olympique de Marseille needed to find suitable replacements.

Among the newcomers, Atlético de Madrid have secured the most lucrative deal to date, signing a 4-year deal with Saudi Arabian airline RiyadhAir for a reported EUR 40 million per year, replacing online trading platform WhaleFin.

It is followed by Newcastle’s deal with another Saudi brand, Sela for an annual sum of EUR 29.2 million, a figure that is more than double that of the deal for domestic peers Aston Villa, which are placed third in this ranking.

Clubs still on the hunt

As mentioned, Chelsea FC are the most prominent name on the market who revealed their new kit without a main shirt sponsor ahead of the 2023/24 season, as a contract with telecommunications brand 3 expired at the end of last season. Over the course of the offseason, the Blues faced several issues in finding the right partner. First, they were close to securing a deal with subscription streaming service Paramount+, just before the EPL called it off amid concerns of disrupting existing relationships with broadcasting partners; afterwards, another deal seemed to be on the horizon with betting firm Stake.com, but fan protests forced the club to withdraw from negotiations.

Chelsea are not the only "Big Five" club still awaiting a main shirt sponsorship; notably, clubs like Nottingham Forest FC, Sevilla FC, AS Roma and SS Lazio have also unveiled their new kits without a main sponsor. Meanwhile, many clubs who rely on well established, long-term partnerships stand on firmer ground; among others, Brighton & Hove Albion FC's have a contract in place with multinational financial services company American Express running until 2032, while Arsenal FC have recently extended their enduring alliance with airline Emirates until 2028, boosting the revenues of the North London club already starting from the 2023/24 season.