Man City poised for new shirt sponsor(s)
One of the big rumours in the football sponsorship market at the moment is that Manchester City is on the hunt for a new shirt sponsor or sponsors, as the club grapples with meeting new financial fair play rules coming into force.
But they are now understood to be looking at two options – either freeing themselves from the current Etihad deal; or, more likely, running with two shirt sponsors, a la Tottenham Hotspurs with one sponsor for league and one for cup matches.
Each, they hope, will bring in more money than the current deal.
There is unlikely to be little difficulty in City liberating itself up from this shirt deal as Etihad Airways is owned by the Abu Dhabi government,, whose ruler is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Naygha, the half-brother of Sheikh Mansour, the owner of Manchester City.
And make no mistake about it, City need some big money coming in, as the club posted a loss of £97.9m in the 2011-2012 season.
From next year, financial fair play rules dictate City must reduce these losses to £39m over three years, after which the club must break even.
And while City can sell out the ground each week, gate returns and broadcast revenues aren’t enough when you have 20-plus, big-salaried players like City.
Factor in that the club is not a sponsorship juggernaut like Manchester United, which picks up new sponsors as easily as it does victories on the pitch, then you have a City board sweating on where the money is going to come from.
There is little doubt it would be an opportune time for City –fresh from last season’s Premier League success – to hit the market, as the shirt sponsorship market is booming in the Premier League.
Manchester United recently signed up Chevrolet on a £52m-a-year deal while, at the other end of the table, Sunderland signed a staggering £20m-a-year deal with Invest in Africa.
One only needs to take a look at Manchester United (see below) to reveal how undervalued historically the shirt sponsorship market has been, despite the rise in popularity of the game globally.
1980. Sharp. £1m a season.
2000. Vodafone. £6m.
2006. AIG. £14m.
2010. AON. £20m.
2014. Chevrolet. £52m.
The split sponsorship looks like a good option for City, one which could mean City topping its current Etihad deal.
And should they choose carefully, they could for example, sign up a big US and a big Asian brand, thus giving the club stronger platforms in two key markets.
The downside for a potential cup shirt sponsor is that cup competitions can be fickle beasts, and City could be dumped out in the first round, leaving a red-faced marketing director with questions to answer.