By the early 1980s in England competition sponsorship had opened the way to club shirt sponsorship. Abroad, the wearing of product names on club shirts was already common.
In 1978 Liverpool became the first British club to have a shirt sponsor.Sponsors names in England were initially limited in size by the Football League in order to placate fans and the 'non advertising' BBC. Some products cigarettes for example were considered 'not suitable' for football shirts, though alcohol products are still regularly featured on shirts. Most sponsors are private companies, but: WBA has had sponsorship from the Health Education Council; Millwall has promoted safe sex; and Hull City were sponsored in 1997/98 by the University of Hull
Abroad, shorts as well as shirts can also be used by sponsors. The national team in England has no shirt sponsorship, though the logos and names of key sponsors appear on training kit and around the national stadium.
The cost of sponsorship
The cost of shirt sponsorship at some top clubs (up to £20 million a year in 2006/07) means that only large, private companies will now do.
In 2002 Tottenham Hotspur announced a new four-year £15 million deal with kit manufacturer Kappa, while travel firm Thomson announced a new £4 million shirt sponsorship deal with Spurs.
Some companies feel they benefit from very long term deals with top clubs most people now are encouraged to think, for example, that Vodafone somehow 'stands for' Manchester United these days. Arsenal for many years had only one shirt sponsor, JVC, before moving on to Sony. Today more and more high tech industries have moved into shirt sponsorship business with computer goods, mobile phones and office products to the fore.
Internationally, only one top club has argued that the club shirt is too 'sacred' to be despoiled by a sponsor's name; but, then, the Catalan club Barcelona probably does not need the cash as much as some clubs do!
Today, too, many young fans identify 'authentic' club shirts by the correct sponsors' name. This means product 'recognition' is very high for many sponsors a crucial issue but we don't really know if sponsorship helps product sales. After all, maybe some Tottenham fans would be put off buying Sony goods because of its Arsenal associations! However, the FA Premier League Fan Survey of 1995 suggested that three out of ten (29.5%) of all fans find products associated with their club 'more attractive', but younger fans are much more strongly affected. Competition sponsorship seems slightly less successful in this respect, though a direct effect on fans is only one of the aims of sponsorship.
Obviously, sponsors must fear a negative reaction from supporters of other football clubs to their products. A club's relationship with a sponsor is designed to work one way, at least from a commercial point of view. The club receives a sponsorship fee and the sponsor receives brand exposure.
A brand like electronics goods company Sharp chose football because of the mass appeal of the sport. Mintel Leisure Intelligence in 1984, reported a 37 percent awareness of Sharp as a sponsor, second only in terms of football sponsors to Coca Cola with 39 percent (Seed, 1985). Sharp's first deal with United began in 1982 and cost £500,000 over five years; how times have changed.
Shirt Sponsorship Earnings Soar - 07/05/2006
The total value of Premiership football shirt sponsorship deals is set to hit £70m a year next season, up 25 per cent from the current season and about tenfold since the league's inaugural season in 1992-93.
Sponsorships are becoming much more international. Sponsors like Sanderson, Thistle Hotels and the Evening Gazette of Middlesbrough have given way to Reebok, Chang (a Thai beer) and Spanish building and property group Llanera.
Mobile phone groups have been the most prominent sponsors of recent times, accounting for three of the four most valuable deals in the 2005-06 season.
There are also signs of increasing interest from online gaming companies: Aston Villa recently signed a deal with 32Red.
Figures from sports marketing specialist Brand Rapport show a twenty-fold gap between Chelsea at the top (£20m) and Portsmouth at the bottom (£500,000).
Only four other clubs - Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle - earn more than a quarter of what Chelsea do from sport sponsorship.
Indeed, eleven clubs earn between £1 and £2 million a year.
Sponsor list- FA Premier League 2006-07
Online gambling sites are joining the traditional industries of automakers, breweries, electronics and financial institutions as team sponsors.
For the 2006-07 season, there are no fewer than three internet wagering sites as new kit sponsors, joining Middlesbrough with 888.com. Here are the current lists (as of June 12, 2006) of changes:
Arsenal will revert back to their traditional red and white home kit, but with Dubai-based Emirates, who also will sponsor their new stadium, as their new shirt sponsor replacing celluar provider O2.
Aston Villa will have a new jersey sponsor, with internet betting site 32Red replacing German-based DWS Investments. Many internet posters and fans thought that the company logo for DWS actually said "COWS" because of the hexagon's placement in front of the initals. Also, white replaces yellow as the new alternate kit.
Blackburn Rovers will also have a new jersey sponsor, with internet betting site Bet24 taking over on the front of the jersey while Lonsdale, who served as the uniform sponsor in 2005-06, remains their kit provider.
Charlton Athletic will go into their first full season of jersey sponsorship with the Spanish finacncial firm Llanara, who came on board at mid-season.
Chelsea have switched from Britain's Umbro to German adidas after the adidas-Group made an eleventh-hour bid that was higher than American-based powerhouse Nike. Electronic maker Samsung will remain sponsorship on the front of the jersey.
Liverpool will change from Reebok to adidas as a result of their merger, as Danish brewers Carlsberg stays on the front of the jerseys.
Everton have a new home kit made by Umbro featuring the classic diamonds down one shoulder, and will retain their sponsor, the Thai based beer Chang.
Fulham will have a new home kit, with Germany's Puma being replaced by French-based Airness, and their long-sleeve shirts will feature thumb holes. British internet provider Pipex will stay as the team's shirt sponsor.
Manchester United will have a new home kit as US-based AIG becomes the new sponsor after celluar phone providers Vodafone stepped down.
Reading will be in Puma kits with blue and white hoops at home and sponsorship on the front of the shirt from copying titan Kyocera.
Sheffield United will wear le coq sportif kits with the famous red and white stripes on the shirt, and US-based credit card bankers Capital One as sponsor in the front.
Tottenham Hotspur have switched their kit provider from Kappa to Puma and will feature a new shirt sponsor, internet based betting site mansionpoker.net replacing Thomson Holidays.
Watford will be in yellow with Diadora kits and internet financiers Loans.co.uk as the team's shirt sponsors