Two Premier League top clubs are preparing new contracts with their title sponsors.
Chelsea is playing in all-blue jerseys because their deal with technology startup Infinite Athlete is awaiting approval from the Premier League, valued at around 47 million euros annually. According to The Athletic, the club is negotiating with the Saudi airline Riyadh Air for a more substantial 70 million euro deal (the backup option is unclear).
Manchester United will change their chest logo starting next season – they will replace IT company TeamViewer with the American telecommunications manufacturer Qualcomm. The value of this agreement is 70 million euros, which, according to The Telegraph, will be a world football record.
Is this really the case?
Sponsorship contracts are an essential element of financial fair play. Prices should be market-driven
First, let's address some legal details.
The main principle of European Financial Fair Play (FFP) is that clubs cannot spend significantly more than they earn. UEFA allows a cumulative loss of up to 5 million euros over the previous three calendar years (starting in 2023, new rules apply, and the threshold increases to 30 million euros if the owner is willing to cover the deficit with their own money).
Sponsorship income is considered pure revenue in this formula. The more advertising contracts a club has, the more it can spend.
A control system is in place to prevent wealthy owners from artificially inflating club finances through controlled entities. Deals with related parties are not prohibited per se, but they must be done at a "fair value."
According to UEFA licensing rules, participants in European competitions must reflect all commercial income in their reports. If there are doubts, auditors request a detailed assessment of the fair value of the deal. If the payment is overstated, it is adjusted downward to the market value.
There is also control at the league level.
For example, La Liga intervened when Saudi owners of Almeria tried to inflate sponsorship deals through their structures a year ago. After verification, the amount was reduced by 87 percent (from 8 million euros to 1 million euros).
In England, following scandals with Middle Eastern partners, Manchester City's deals over one million pounds are reviewed by the league for connections with owners and then assessed for fair value compliance.
It is this procedure that the potential sponsor of Chelsea, Infinite Athlete, is currently undergoing.
Let's talk about world football's most expensive title sponsorship contracts.
10.Juventus (Jeep - Stellantis NV) - 45 million euros per year
The Jeep brand became Juventus' partner before the 2012/13 season, replacing the Betclic online casino logo on the jerseys. The automotive corporation Stellantis is the successor to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (after the cross-border merger of the Italian company with the French Peugeot Group in 2021). It is the world's fourth-largest automaker, owning brands such as Jeep, Citroen, Opel, Dodge, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati.
At the end of 2020, Juventus and the automotive conglomerate (then Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) signed a new agreement – 145 million euros until the end of the 2023/24 season (all amounts are converted to euros at the current exchange rate). According to Tuttosport, the contract will not be renewed. Due to the automotive market crisis, jeep can no longer support such financing levels. Juventus is seeking a new sponsor in the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The headquarters of Stellantis NV is in Amsterdam, and its assets are valued at 104 billion euros.
Connections between the sponsor and Juventus owners: The club and the automotive conglomerate are owned by the Dutch holding company EXOR of the Agnelli family. EXOR's CEO, John Elkann, is the grandson of Gianni Agnelli and the cousin of former Juventus president Andrea Agnelli.
Bonus: Global insurance giant Allianz pays Juventus 10 million euros for its logo on the training kit.
9.Tottenham Hotspur (AIA Group Limited) - 46.5 million euros per year
The logo of the largest pan-Asian insurance company, AIA, appeared on Tottenham Hotspur's jerseys in the 2013/14 season but initially only in cup competitions. The insurers already replaced Hewlett-Packard on all kit sets in the following season.
In July 2019, they extended the agreement on improved terms – 372 million euros until the end of the 2026/27 season. The AIA logo will appear on the jerseys of men's, women's, and youth teams in all competitions. AIA believes that Tottenham's popularity in Asia will help develop the brand in the region's markets.
The insurer's headquarters is based in Hong Kong, and its assets are valued at 300 billion euros.
Bonus: On Tottenham Hotspur's training kit, another title sponsor, the Turkish grocery delivery service Getir, adds 5.8 million euros to the club's budget annually.
8.Bayern Munich (T-Mobile - Deutsche Telekom AG) - 50 million euros per year
The T-Mobile logo replaced the legendary Opel inscription on Bayern Munich's jerseys before the 2002/03 season. T-Mobile is one of the largest European mobile operators and internet service providers.
A year ago, the agreement was extended for the third time, reaching 250 million euros until the end of the 2026/27 season. As part of the partnership, FC Bayern.tv, the multimedia program StadiumVision (allowing fans to track statistics and game facts online, exclusive offers, and game news), and 5G coverage at the Allianz Arena have been launched.
The telecommunications company is headquartered in Bonn, with assets valued at 300 billion euros.
Other football partnerships of T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom): German national team (German Football Association), Borussia Mönchengladbach, and Cologne.
7.Manchester United (TeamViewer) - 55 million euros per year
The German software developer TeamViewer replaced Chevrolet on Manchester United's jerseys in 2021. The previous agreement with Chevrolet was valued higher at 73 million euros annually. TeamViewer's platform (software for remote access, management, and servicing of computers) is installed on over 2.5 billion devices, with 600,000 subscribers in nearly all countries worldwide.
In March 2021, the parties agreed to a five-year contract worth 275 million euros until the end of the 2025/26 season. In December 2022, it was announced that TeamViewer would not renew the contract. The company's stocks surprisingly dropped by 70 percent after signing the agreement.
However, TeamViewer might have disappeared from Manchester United's jerseys earlier – the club stated that they would buy out the contract if they found a new title partner. According to The Athletic, a confirmed three-year deal worth 70 million euros annually with Qualcomm, a manufacturer of Snapdragon processors for mobile devices, will see a new logo on the jerseys starting next season.
But for this season, Manchester United started with the TeamViewer logo on their chests.
The headquarters of the software developers is in Goppingen, Germany, with assets valued at 3 billion euros.
Bonus: The blockchain platform Tezos pays 23 million euros annually for advertising on the training kit.
5-6.Arsenal (Emirates) - 58 million euros per year
The UAE airline Emirates has adorned Arsenal's jerseys for 17 years, replacing the mobile operator O2 before the 2006/07 season. The deal was made in November 2004 when Emirates acquired naming rights to the club's new stadium for 116 million euros. In 2012, the stadium deal was extended until 2028.
In early August, the parties signed a new title sponsorship contract worth 290 million euros until the end of the 2027/28 season. Emirates' colors decorate several of Arsenal's airplanes, and they have launched the Global Gooners program, offering fans from around the world flights and stadium tickets.
The airline's headquarters are based in Dubai, with assets valued at 40 billion euros.
Emirates' other football partnerships include Real Madrid, AC Milan, Lyon, Benfica, Olympiacos, the Asian Football Confederation, and the FA Cup.
5-6.Liverpool (Standard Chartered) - 58 million euros per year
Another long-standing partnership – bankers replaced the vintage Carlsberg inscription on Liverpool's jerseys in the 2010/11 season. Standard Chartered is a British multinational bank with a strong presence worldwide, especially in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
In July 2022, Liverpool announced the extension of the partnership – 232 million euros for 4 years starting from the 2023/24 season. The deal includes title sponsorship of the women's team.
The financial institution's headquarters are in London, with assets valued at 750 billion euros.
Bonus: The contract for training kit sponsorship with AXA is valued at 23 million euros.
2-4.Barcelona (Spotify) - 70 million euros per year
The Swedish audio streaming platform Spotify replaced the Japanese company Rakuten last year. Spotify is the world's most popular music and podcast subscription service, with over 550 million users in over 180 countries.
The deal was signed for four years, totaling 280 million euros until the end of the 2025/26 season. As part of the agreement, Spotify's logo appears on the jerseys of all age groups of Barcelona's men's and women's teams. La Liga's famous "Barca" stadium has been renamed Spotify Camp Nou for the first time in the club's history. "Spotify will be associated with the stadium for at least the next 12 seasons, including four during its renovation and eight afterward," announced club president Joan Laporta.
Spotify is headquartered in Stockholm, with assets valued at 26 billion euros.
2-4.PSG (Qatar Airways) - 70 million euros per year
Qatar Airways arrived in the summer of 2022, replacing the hotel network Accor. Before this, the airline was a premium club sponsor for 10 million euros annually. Qatar Airways is the national airline of Qatar, serving flights to over 160 destinations worldwide.
According to SportBusiness, PSG signed a three-year deal before the previous season, totaling 210 million euros until the end of the 2024/25 season. The partnership also includes additional advertising at the stadium, innovative content to engage fans, and official tourism packages for club fans visiting Paris.
Qatar Airways is headquartered in Doha, with assets valued at 25 billion euros.
Other connections with PSG: Since 2011, PSG has indirectly belonged to the State Wealth Fund of Qatar, which is accountable to the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investments, chaired by Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Qatar Airways is owned by the government of Qatar.
2-4.Real Madrid (Emirates) - 70 million euros per year
The UAE airline Emirates replaced Bwin as the club's shirt sponsor in the 2013/14 season for 27 million euros annually. In September 2017, they signed a record deal for title sponsors worth 70 million euros annually.
In 2022, they signed a new contract totaling 280 million euros until the end of the 2025/26 season. The deal includes branding on the club's assets and digital properties. According to the agreement, Real Madrid can receive additional bonuses of around 7 million euros for successful results. During their partnership with Emirates, the Madrid club won the UEFA Champions League five times.
Emirates is headquartered in Dubai, with assets valued at 40 billion euros.
Other football partnerships of Emirates: Arsenal, Milan, Lyon, Benfica, Olympiacos, Asian Football Confederation, FA Cup.
1.Manchester City (Etihad Airways) - 78.8 million euros per year
In 2008, Sheikh Mansour purchased Manchester City. From the 2009/2010 season onwards, the UAE national airline Etihad Airways appeared on the club's shirts instead of the tour operator Thomas Cook. The Middle Eastern sponsor is one of the world's largest airlines, serving passengers on more than 400 international routes. In an extended agreement in 2011, Manchester City's home stadium was renamed the "Etihad Stadium," now serving as the central part of the Etihad Campus in East Manchester.
This is the most mysterious deal with a title sponsor, as Manchester City traditionally needs to disclose detailed information about its Middle Eastern partners. According to Forbes, a 10-year agreement worth 470 million euros ended in 2021. The club's 2021/22 season financial report mentions that the partnership with Etihad has been extended without specifying details. According to The Athletic, the agreement is valued at 78.8 million euros. Statista and SportsPro also estimate it this way. As we understand it, The Telegraph disagrees with this assessment, as it considers the possible 70 million euros for Manchester United from a new sponsorship deal to be a record.
Etihad Airways is headquartered in Abu Dhabi, with assets valued at 35 billion euros.
Other connections with Manchester City: In 2022, the government of Abu Dhabi transferred the airline to the local investment group ADQ. According to Fitch's estimate, the airline still indirectly belongs to the government of Abu Dhabi. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of ADQ is Sheikh Tahnoon, the brother of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour. For 12 years (until the beginning of 2022), Mohamed Al-Mazroui, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Etihad Airways, was involved in managing the City.
Other football partnerships of Etihad Airways: New York City and Melbourne City.
Bonus: The contract for the title sponsorship of the training kit by the cryptocurrency exchange OKX amounted to 17 million euros per year. Interestingly, this partnership coincided with OKX entering the market in the UAE.
Each sponsorship contract has its own nuances
Some packages, in addition to the logo on the chest, include extended options such as stadium naming rights or the status of the official carrier (with stylized airplanes). Sometimes, there are separate sponsors for women's teams and training kits. Sometimes, one sponsor secures almost the entire package in a single deal.
These details are scrutinized by UEFA and leagues when assessing the fairness of agreements. They also compare them to similar deals in the football market, such as Barcelona's sponsors with those of Real Madrid, Chelsea with Manchester City and Manchester United.
In such conditions, Chelsea's contract with the new title sponsor could have been even more significant than the estimated 47 million euros. However, missing out on the 2023/24 European season clearly reduced opportunities for Bouley. Therefore, it is reported that the sponsorship contract of 70 million euros with the Saudi airline Riyadh Air may be signed in the following season, provided they qualify for European competitions. They need to make it there.
Published by Patrick Jane