Liverpool FC were the first club in football to accept shirt sponsorship. Prior to 1977, having a company’s logo etched onto the team’s shirt was considered unnecessary. However, once the financial benefits were felt, other clubs followed.
It can be argued that the two main benefits of shirt (or indeed any) sponsorship are that it brings in considerable revenue for the club and indeed (potentially) raises the profile of the club.
Every club greatly benefits from a shirt sponsor; the choice of sponsor often reflects the ambitions and intentions of the club. Many clubs, regardless of status, receive sponsorship from some of the world’s biggest corporations.
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Each club is able to negotiate their own deals independently. Whilst this may theoretically be wise and just, a pertinent question needs to be asked; should clubs and indeed organisations be more responsible in their choice of sponsors?
A case in point is the English FA, who partner with (amongst many reputable businesses) a confectionery and a fast food company.
Given that the FA aims to promote a healthier lifestyle, especially within our schools, is this not a contradiction in what we are trying to achieve? Is this not a mixed message we are sending the next generation of footballers?
Surely we should be working with companies that promote sustainable, successful products and services, not ones that encourage snack diets and excessive sugar consumption.
Many corporations proudly partner with clubs, but from a social, economical and cultural perspective, is having a questionable pay day loan companies logo emblazoned on the shirts of a North East clubs shirts a true representation of the club and its fans?
It can be argued that each club has a responsibility to ensure any company associated with them represents and promotes its own values in some way. It is culturally and socially imperative that any partnership is for the purpose of advancing the club and indeed the sport itself.
With more money in football than ever before and for present and future success; surely it is now time for clubs to promote health over convenience.