Liverpool Football Club have announced a new multimillion-pound sponsorship deal with Asian based airline Garuda to start in June.
However, this isn't a bog standard kit sponsorship deal, in fact the Reds have become the second Premier League club to name a separate 'training kit' sponsor to their new 'match-day kit' sponsor starting in June, Vauxhall.
The idea of sponsorship deals is of course not new, but in recent Premier League years there has been an upsurge in the value and variety of sponsorship, and recently 'partnership', deals for the league's clubs.
As Premier League clubs aim to balance their sheets, pay off debts, comply with UEFA financial fair play rules, and expand global appeal, what was previously reserved to the forward thinkers and the financial astute is now becoming common place.
What kinds of deals have happened in recent years, and what might they mean for Premier League football? A few will be mentioned from the ever growing list of increasingly large and frequent deals.
Manchester United were the first to announce a separate 'training' kit sponsor back in 2011, in a £40milllion deal with delivery company DHL. Since then, in an innovative move to compliment their existing financial structure, they announced that they had reached a £160million deal to sponsor their training complex with current match-day kit sponsors AON in April 2013. The Red Devils also became the first Premier League club to float shares on the stock market in 2012 in a bid to raise extra funds.
Arsenal of course jumped on the chance to sell the naming rights to their new stadium, in a bid to pay the bill for their multi-million pound move to Ashburton Grove Stadium (The Emirates) with airline company Emirates. The Gunners raised £100million from the sale of the naming rights and kit sponsorship in the original 2004 deal, and in 2012 resigned the deal to pocket an extra £150million.
Chelsea have too been thinking of new ways to raise funds and improve their balance sheets; in April 2013 they announced a new 'partnership' deal with F1 team Sauber - the first of its kind linking sports teams across disciplines. In a move which both parties labelled 'ground breaking', the two sporting bodies have since been launching joint commercial ventures and activities and brand-promotions. The aim, from Chelsea's perspective, was to "increase the global reach of the club", according to Chief Executive Ron Gourlay.
What does all this mean for Premier League football? Well, it's quite evident that clubs are increasingly seeing themselves as businesses, and thus needing to operate within business models. These deals and partnerships are typical of any good business, and the figures they generate rival stock market trades.
One of the consequence of this shift towards business orientated football clubs, however, is that the wills and wishes, and in some cases pockets, of the fans become abused and ostracised. Footballing interests become secondary to financial ones, with club boards nationwide prioritising meeting monetary targets and aims prior to footballing success.
Arsenal are unfortunately a prime example of this in action: for a decade their fans have had to put up very expensive ticket prices, a 'selling club' transfer policy, and thus no trophy successes in order so that the club could pay off their stadium move.
Although Arsenal's prices are exceptionally high, expensive ticket prices are the norm to English football as a whole, where the fans of the game foot a disproportionately large lump of the clubs bills compared to their counterparts in Germany or Belgium for example.
After selling shares on the stock market, Manchester United have taken a large chunk of monetary and financial interest away from the club, and in the hands of profiteering businesses and funds. Should a crunch come, footballing interests are sure to feature low on the bottom of their agendas.
Also, while such things as separate training kit sponsors and link ups with sports teams from other disciplines may seem harmless enough from the perspective of the fans and the interests of football, they are indicative of the attitudes sweeping Premier League clubs, especially those at the top, that when it comes to running a modern football club, it's business as usual. Surely it won't be long before such clubs already in this mindset decide to follow the more extreme and potentially damaging financial pursuits as well.
Although innovative and clever, the recent surge in sponsorship, and now partnership, deals could have bad outcomes for fans and footballing interests for Premier League clubs.
As business starts to take over in the boardroom and spreading across to all areas of the clubs, might football suffer?
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