Football, being one of the most expensive games in the world, thrives on sponsorship. Almost every aspect of football is monetized and yields massive annual returns.
Football clubs have gotten paid partnerships with different firms from different sectors, such as airline companies, betting organisations, food firms, etc. Betting organizations seem popular in football because of their pact with the sport and how many fans bet using various online sportsbook alongside other forms of gambling.
A different but not new kind of deal that is a reliable source of revenue for clubs is the sale of stadium naming rights.
Naming rights are a monetary agreement between a club and a firm, individual, or other kinds of enterprise for the right to name their facility. The primary purpose of purchasing naming rights is to promote and publicize a business name or brand. A naming rights contract has a time frame which can end after expiration or be extended based on negotiation.
Examples of clubs with naming rights include: Atlético Madrid, Juventus, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, etc. Some clubs, especially popular clubs like Tottenham Hotspur, are yet to get naming rights for their stadiums, but they seem open to interested buyers.
Some clubs do not want their stadium names changed because they are perceived to hold so much history that fans cherish, whereas others are picky about the businesses to whom they sell their naming rights due to control and excessive advertising.
Sadly, some clubs, like Los Angeles FC of Major League Soccer, among others, lost their naming rights due to the financial strain the pandemic brought on their sponsors. However, this doesn’t deny the fact that selling naming rights to businesses and interested buyers is one of the fastest growing means of generating revenue for football clubs.
Here are the five top earners from naming rights in ascending order:
Turkish league club Besiktas unveiled their stadium in 2013. The stadium’s building estimate was around $120 million. They signed a massive deal worth $145 million for 10 years (that is till 2023 with a possible extension till 2028) with Vodafone, a mobile phone company.
The financial agreement covers their naming rights, advertisements on shirts, and stadium infrastructure. Besiktas earns about £6 million annually from the deal. The stadium is popularly known as Vodafone Park.
Allainz, a banking and finance firm, is known for its wide sponsorship of clubs. It is reported to be the name of about eight stadiums spanning four continents. These include German Giants, Bayern Munich.
Bayern Munich earns approximately £6.4 million per year from its financial agreement with Allainz. The stadium has been renamed Allainz Arena since 2006.
Fenerbahce signed a £7 million deal with the food company Ulker for their naming rights. However, the stadium’s name isn’t known after Ulker. It is called Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, which is in honour of the former president of the club. His history as the owner of the club since 1933 led to the naming of the stadium after him.
Fenerbahce is the first team in the Turkish league to own their stadium. It can still be referred to as the Ulker stadium.
The Spanish team, Atlético Madrid, has some history with stadiums. They left their former stadium, Vicente Calderon, in 2017 for a new stadium, Metropolitano Stadium.
Wanda, an information technology company in China, bought some 20% of the shares of the club that permitted it to use the naming rights to its training ground, with an extension to the stadium too. Although the terms with the company state the name “Metropolitano” remains because of the club’s first stadium.
The technology company pays £8.4 million annually to the club for its naming rights.
Winners of four league titles in the past decade, Manchester City has the biggest take home from sponsorship deals. This deal had a lot of agitation but it still thrived.
Manchester City had a full sponsorship deal with Etihad, an airline company. This deal was worth £400m over a time frame of ten years, with renewal options available. This deal covers the naming rights of the stadium, shirt advertisements, etc.
The deal is expected to end soon, but a renewal seems very likely. Manchester City is presently the highest-earning club from a naming rights deal.