Sponsorship Snacks

Week 18

Advanced Sponsorship Insights
6 min readMay 13, 2021


Do you still remember what it is like to hug your friends after a night out? What sounded like a dream a couple of months ago will come true after a year of non-hugging.

In the UK, people will be allowed to press (someone) tightly in one’s arms as a sign of affection. Simply put, they are legally allowed to hug a person outside their home (Source). You know that the current times are crazy world if this is a major headline. For everybody outside the UK, hang in there! The light at the end of the tunnel is near.

ManUtd Loses Jersey Sponsor Because of Super League

We are still witnessing the aftermath of the European Super League (ESL). After the league crumbled within a week due to the public outrage of many fans and players the participating clubs now face real repercussions from their sponsors.

Many sponsors got the ESL news at the same time as everybody else and without any prior briefing. Not a sign of a close partnership. ManUtd’s official timing partner Tibus ended their five-year deal early because of the ESL fallout (Source)

But the troubles don’t end there. ManUtd fans started to join forces and enforced planned cyber attacks on ManUtd’s sponsors. One victim was the recent sponsor addition TeamViewer (we covered the initial deal here). ManUtd fans left negative reviews to damage the sponsor’s reputation (Source). Look at the result:

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This behavior has now also scared away new partners. Potential Aon substitute MyProtein withdrew their alleged ten-year deal worth US$281.6 million (Source). That’s a significant blow for the franchise and leaves ManU empty-handed one month before their current deal expires.

The ESL continues to impact the sponsorship landscape. Most of the time, clubs are not contractually obliged to keep partners informed about sport-related actions. Expect future contracts to have specific clauses for a scenario like this.

From a big picture view, there will be another interesting challenge for all ESL clubs. They will have to find ways to re-engage with a disgruntled fan community. Until today boycotts rarely affected the bottom line of the clubs and owners, but the TeamViewer example proves that the ESL could have been a turning point. The relationship with fans will become even more important in the future.

Expect clubs to increase fan involvement, focus on community or social and/or ecological projects. Any sponsor who can contribute to help in this areas could have an advantage going forward.

Chelsea Includes Members on Board Talk

Speaking of re-engaging fans. Chelsea has their ESL fiasco consequences. Yet, contrary to ManUtd, who tries to deal with a fan boycott, or Juventus, who is threatened with a SerieA expulsion, the London Club has made the right moves.

To repair the broken fan relationship, they will give their supporters access to board meetings (Source). Chelsea plans to work together with various fan groups to appoint three representative supporter advisors. Yet, the fan advisors will not have any voting rights and will have to enter a confidentiality agreement.

Chelsea has taken notes of what happened to their neighbors in Manchester and chose a proactive move. It remains unclear, however, if supporters are satisfied with this solution. Repairing a relationship takes a lot of time and effort, and even though Chelsea moves in the right direction, they still have a long way to go.

Sponsors and clubs need to start taking fan sentiment more seriously when approaching strategic decisions. Monitoring the fan sentiment, predicting when to change the course of action, and planning scenarios will be necessary skills for all sponsors and clubs.

Nearly Half of Fans Want to Watch Tokyo2020 on Their Phones

What do cryptocurrency and mobile streaming have in common? Both are notoriously underestimated. 45% of fans indicate that they would watch an event on their mobile phone (Source). As sports events were postponed, fans urged to satisfy their need for sports elsewhere.

When the pandemic began last year, downloads and sessions of mobile sports games skyrocketed everywhere (Source). Further insights reveal that 38% of respondents think that it is important for brands to keep up with the current mobile trend (Source).

There are two main reasons why mobile streaming will stay interesting for sponsors and clubs. First, it enables you to reach the next generation of digital natives. 64% of respondents between 18 and 27 watched sports content via mobile apps by sports bodies, third parties, or pay-TV providers (Statista).

Second, it acts as a crucial touchpoint to interact with fans and enhances the viewing experience. 69% of sports fans worldwide said that new technologies improve their experience with the event, and in some countries like India, the percentage is even higher (Source).

COVID-19 has accelerated sports’ digital transition. Clubs will continue to look for partners that enable them to exploit emerging technology like mobile streaming or social broadcasting. As today’s snacks have shown, the fan’s sentiment is a valuable but volatile metric. Mobile Streaming or other mobile content is the key to gauge the opinion barometer of the fanbase.

One question that remains is how the streaming war will affect mobile consumption. Consumers would prefer to have a centralized app instead of subscribing to five different streaming services. Emerging streaming platforms like Twitch, or Discord could gain even more market share, and clubs might adjust their rights packages according to the need of the young fans.

How Football Is Becoming a Platform for Designer Fashion

Sometimes all it takes is one domino to fall to change the whole situation. When it comes to Football, and fashion that domino was the PSGxJordan collaboration that became an instant fashion classic. With the success of the PSGxJordan partnership, collaborations between fashion brands and football clubs are starting to become more frequent.

In comes Italy, the land of pizza, pasta, and fashion. Marcelo Burlon, Emporio Armani, and Stone Island are all luxury fashion brands, and they are all more or less involved in Football. Stone Island is about to buy 30% of the share of Italian club Modena (Source). Armani is rumored to become the next jersey sponsor of Napoli after the club’s successful collaboration with Marcelo Burlon (Source).

And it does not stop there. Streetwear company Palace has just released a jersey together with Juventus. Brands like Burberry, Loewe, or Louis Vuitton chose footballers as the face of their brand (Source). Fashion plays a bigger role in Football than ever.

The main benefit of these collaborations, for both sides, is the hype that surrounds the products. The Marcelo Burlon Napoli jersey sold for 483€ on a reselling platform, and the Juventus Palace jersey went for 630€. With their designer shirts, football clubs reach an audience that is otherwise hard to target. According to own data analysis, only 31% of Football fans are interested in fashion. At the same time, those clubs have a huge audience that designer brands can reach through the partnership.

Essentially, the brands are trading awareness and fandom for brand desire. Recent history has shown the global impact football fashion partnership can create if executed correctly. However, because these partnerships are fairly new, brands and clubs have to monitor their collaborations closely.

Now comes a rather experimental take on the jersey resell market. Some clubs are already experts when it comes to dynamic prices and the ticket resell market. Would it be too far-fetched to envision a future where fans can buy and sell designer jerseys on club-owned platforms or apps? The value of the resell market is estimated to be 64 billion euros on a global scale in 2024 (Source). If clubs could take a small cut of the pie by providing their fans with a reselling platform, it could provide them with yet another revenue stream.

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