Football has long remained a global sport which has the unique power of uniting millions of people from across the world in their passion for the beautiful game. Matches are televised on a worldwide scale through multi-million pound broadcasting deals which allow live football to be beamed across every continent. Football’s appeal is predominately based upon the level of drama, tension and excitement that created on the pitch which keeps fans on the edge of their seat.
Although domestic league competition provides each country with their own unique identity and passionate supporters, major European competitions and international tournaments provide the greatest attraction for football fans. The UEFA Champions League and World Cup are archetypal examples of tournaments which attract the highest viewing figures in world sport thanks to the high calibre of football on show from the very best players. Such prestigious tournaments were made possible through the efforts of governing bodies to create events that would shape the future of football, in addition to the growing income generated through sponsorship deals.
Business in the sport
Football’s ever-increasing rise to prominence has culminated in the growing rate of sponsorship deals through companies who realise the vast business potential within the sport. A recently agreed deal between Coral and Chelsea illustrates a trend within football which is quickly developing into a multi-billion pound industry where business is equally as important as the game itself. Money has become an integral factor in numerous facets of the game, with football clubs searching for new methods of income to remain stable and finance improvements on and off the pitch to become more established. Sponsorship deals reflect an interdependent relationship between external companies and football clubs; companies need football clubs to promote their brand on a global scale through merchandise, football shirts and advertising boards, while football clubs need companies to generate sufficient income for economic solidity and potential growth. Football clubs also benefit from the wealth of customers who are brand loyal to a particular company, as special promotions and marketing strategies can help to create a global fanbase for a club to thrive upon.
Despite their current on-the-field struggles, Manchester United remain one of the wealthiest clubs in world football thanks to multi-million income generated through global investments and sponsorship deals. Not only are Manchester United amongst an elite group of clubs who have their training and playing kit designed and manufactured by Nike, but the club’s brand continuously draws multi-million pound deals with companies who wish to be associated with a prestigious football team. Following on from their deal to become the global shirt sponsor and principle partner of Manchester United in 2010, multinational corporation AON agreed an eight year deal worth £160 million to put their name on the club’s training ground. The deal came into action in July 2013 as the infamous Carrington became the AON Training Complex, with every player and coaching staff wearing training kit that includes the AON logo. Part of the deal also includes AON sponsoring annual summer tours and friendly matches to increase brand awareness as a commercial business, and promote the company’s global portfolio to prospective clients. The lucrative nature of the deal illustrates the considerable volume of money coming into football, and how sponsorship is vital to generating finances to be put towards operating costs and transfers.
Although a large percentage of Chelsea’s considerable wealth is based upon the multi-billion investment from Russian owner Roman Abramovich, income is also generated through carefully chosen entries into numerous marketing sectors to create sponsors and business partners. The deal agreed between Chelsea and corporate bookmaker Coral in January 2014 signals a niche opening in the market for football clubs to utilise the gambling industry to grow their brand and receive a percentage of all profits. Coral have become Chelsea’s European online betting partner in a two-and-a-half year deal which sees Chelsea fans across the world providing a professional betting service through Coral’s online and mobile betting platforms. While Coral will not feature in any form of club merchandise, Chelsea fans will continuously benefit from the partnership through exclusive offers, which has already included a free 2013/2014 home shirt for those who place a £25 bet after registering an account with Coral throughout the whole of March.