Sleeve branding on Premier League – Good or bad decision?


In 2017, Premier League authorized the sponsor branding on left sleeve. However, for European football shirt sleeves are considered popular sponsorship inventory like the example of BEKO, white goods manufacturer, in the shirts of  FC Barcelona.

The restriction from PL was that if they do not find any they will wear the PL logo on both sides. However, if they found, teams were allowed to wear it PL matches friendlies and replica kits. In some case where a sponsor had a contract for using exclusively the whole shirt, teams they had 3 options:

  1. to wait to renew the contract
  2. buy out the clause
  3. or discuss with the partner so as to help them grow financially

According to research agencies, the value is offered to clubs was around 3 million pounds providing around 20% of media value coming from the front-of-shirt branding. It was clear that all PL clubs were in the market at the same time so due to the funnel effect, the deals that were signed was underpriced. The reason behind is the manufacturing cost which means that if the brand wants to continue the deal it is likely to transfer the cost to the kits.

For teams that are in mid and low tiers of PL, signing a deal with a brand as part of a group deal. WHY? It is attractive, it reaches a wider audience of PL, creating brand exposure but not a real fan engagement. However, for major clubs, this kind of deals are not valuable because the brand does not pay for activations and the invest less in CSR activities.

Knowing that PL is the world’s most watched football league worldwide, it means brand exposure which will be measured in a media value. This exposure will be delivered by player images in media and in social media. Key aspect on this is the ability of the brands to use these images in marketing campaigns. This usage with the players facing camera half side will display the brand’s logo and add massive credibility both online and offline in campaigns. Many would say that is the same value with being on the front of the shirt but they forget the cost.

Closing this article, sleeve sponsorship can lead to content creation by players which will elevate the partner’s logo. On the other side for brands, access to players is crucial for content created especially for successful digital marketing and digital activation so they have to invest resources in order to get the maximum from the little time they get with the players. Only time will show how effective is that move for Premier league.

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