Front of shirt deals worth $1.37 billion to top 15 European soccer leagues for the 2021-22 season, says GlobalData

Clubs competing in the top 15 European soccer leagues, according to UEFA’s Country Coefficient, will collectively earn $1.37 billion through their front of shirt deals for the 2021-22 season, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Front of Shirt Sponsorship Report 2021-22 – Across the Top 15 European Soccer Leagues’, analyzed 235 *active front of shirt deals, which are estimated to be collectively worth $1.37 billion to the clubs, down 4.9% on last season.

Liam Fox, Sport Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The slight constriction in the overall value of the front of shirt market in the top 15 European soccer leagues can be attributed to the pandemic’s impact on the wider sponsorship market over the past 12 to 18 months.”

On the buying side of the rights, the financial hardship endured by many brands as a result of COVID-19 has seen marketing budgets slashed, while returns on investments have become more scrutinised than ever before, leading to a cooling market for premium sponsorship rights. On the selling side, the overall package clubs have been able to offer their partners over the course of the pandemic has been devalued, due to matches being played behind closed doors.

Two new front of shirt deals signed for the 2021-22 season, which exemplify the aforementioned trends, include Manchester United losing around £17 million ($22.44 million) per season off the value of its shirt rights in the club’s new deal with TeamViewer. Meanwhile, FC Barcelona has lost €25 million ($29.5 million) off the value of its shirt deal with Rakuten for the 2021-22 season, in a deal ‘optimised’ for the post-pandemic era.

However, with the gradual return of European soccer to its pre-pandemic state, combined with new entrants into the sponsorship market making significant investments on sponsorship rights, it is expected that this rate of decline will not continue.

The report also states that despite stricter gambling advertisement regulations becoming more widespread across Europe, the industry remains the most prevalent in European soccer’s front of shirt landscape with 51 deals. This is 18 more than any other sector and 11 more than in the 2020-21 season. They have a presence in ten of the 15 leagues analyzed and account for over 21% of the total front of shirt deals analyzed.

Fox continues: “For betting operators, shirt sponsorship is unique in that it enables them to position themselves effectively in front of millions of sports fans who have direct access to their product, due to the proliferation of online and mobile betting.”

Travel and tourism brands remain the biggest investors in front of shirt rights in European soccer, spending an estimated $330.51 million across 18 deals. Spend is strongly bolstered by a small number of high valued deals, mainly with gulf airlines Emirates and Etihad Airways. Emirates airline is the most invested brand in the market for front of shirt rights in European soccer, spending $183.16 million per season across five active front of shirt deals.

Fox adds: “Financial services brands have significantly increased their investments on the 2020-21 season, with deal volume increasing by 10 to a total of 33 deals across the 15 leagues analyzed, while estimated spend has grown by 36% to $283.58 million. This largely owes to the growth of fintech, crypto and Non-Fungible Token (NFT) brands in the market for front of shirt rights in European soccer.”

*Includes deals whereby clubs have sold Front of Shirt rights by strip or competition separately (e.g. home/away, league/domestic or European cup)

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