Value of English shirts to increase 25% next year

The overall value of English Premier League shirt sponsorship deals could hit US$128 million a year next season, up 25 percent from the sums earned in the present campaign and about ten-fold since the league’s inaugural season in 1992-93, David Owen reported in the Financial Times. Figures from Brand Rapport, a UK sports marketing specialist, put the combined value of 2005-06 season sponsorship deals at just over £55 million, with Chelsea’s agreement with South Korea’s Samsung leading the way, ahead of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

But this is set to change next season, with Manchester United having recently signed a four-year £56.5 million contract with American International Group, the US insurance company – the biggest shirt sponsorship deal in English football. This is expected to put Manchester United back on top of the table, while "new deals for Arsenal and Tottenham are also set to reinforce the upward momentum in shirt sponsorship values".

Brand Rapport's Nigel Currie attributes the rapid growth to the Premier League’s continuing international success, as well as the strength of the overall UK sponsorship market. “The Premier League is now watched in more than 150 countries, putting sponsorship of the top teams out of reach of purely UK brands,” he said. Currie puts the size of the overall UK sponsorship market at £1 billion a year, with sport accounting for about 70 percent of the total. He expects this to double by 2012, with programs linked to the London Olympic Games responsible for much of the increase.

"There is a 20-fold gap between the annual earnings of Chelsea at the top and Portsmouth at the bottom. Only four other clubs – Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle – earn more than a quarter the amount that Roman Abramovich’s men at Chelsea do from shirt sponsorship," Owen reported.

See also: Man U's $99m AIG shirt sponsor deal targets Asia (6 Apr)