Football sponsors in Europe – the 5 biggest deals

Ian Watson

Football sponsorship will never be the same. Check out the 5 biggest deals in football sponsorship that broke records and raised bars across Europe.

Football, apart from being a serious cause of mid-season heart attacks, is also our finest passion, one which will always be a part of European culture. And nowhere else is that passion so visible than in the colors we wear with pride every time our team takes the field by storm, which is always great news for the team, as they can get whopping sums of money to turn that shirt you wear into advertising space.

It’s logical, really. With football being such a great selling point for everyone from bars to local street vendors it’s no wonder that the domain where big companies do some of their highest splurges is football.

And with everyone wanting in on the game’s advertising opportunities, there are bound to be companies that will take their desire to the extreme and go in an outmatching war, raising the stake each time and stretching football sponsorship to insane proportions. You think that’s ridiculous? Just take a look at these 5 biggest deals in football sponsorship.

5. Chelsea and Yokohama – £47m per year

Chelsea’s highest sponsorship deal was signed on February 2015, after their previous sponsor, Samsung, failed to outmatch Yokohama’s offer. Samsung paid twice less to Chelsea than the new sponsor did, which is what made the board go for the lucrative five-year contract with Yokohama instead. It was a great time for Chelsea, really, as the new deal followed an already great sponsorship contract with Adidas from the previous year. Chelsea’s deal was one of the biggest sponsorship deals football has seen (until 2015), but it would have never been possible without the next deal on our list.

4. Manchester United and Chevrolet – £53m per year

The award for the biggest change in football sponsorship trends and the most important deal in the last decade has to go to Manchester United’s Chevrolet deal from 2014. When Manchester United signed a seven-year deal with Chevrolet many big clubs were thrilled about the new sponsorship bar that Chevrolet set, while sponsors were probably feeling a bit distressed at the prospect of the competition that will follow. Whatever Manchester United did to double the sum they were getting before we’ll never know, but one thing’s for certain, football sponsorships have never been the same ever since.


3. Manchester United and Adidas – £75m per year

It seems that 2014 was the year when Manchester United were on a roll, at least money-wise, as they locked in on an even bigger deal than their Chevrolet sponsorship when Adidas came knocking on their corporate door. Up until that point, it was Nike who supplied the Red Devils with their kits but they decided to drop out and Adidas took over, offering Manchester United a £ 750 million, 10-year deal. Just like Yokohama, Adidas set another bar for kit manufacturers, which lead to even higher deals during the following two-years.


2. Real Madrid and Adidas – £106m per year

Following their record-breaking deal of 2014, Adidas took to setting an even higher record this year, when they offered Real Madrid a 10-year kit sponsorship in the value of £1 billion pounds, thus tripling the sum of their previous deal and possibly shaking Manchester United’s reputation as the richest football club. The company’s representatives have said that their offer is not an illogical move, despite warnings from financial analysts of creating an “inflationary spiral”, as their previous deal with Manchester proved to be a successful one.


1. Barcelona and Nike £120m per year

Well, with Adidas taking the lead for so long Nike were bound to try and put a stop to Adidas’ dominance or they risked losing the status they’ve so far enjoyed among both football fans and clubs. After failing to continue their sponsorship with several big clubs, Nike went all the way and set the 2nd sponsorship record in 2016, with their 10-year, £1.2 billion deal. It was really a smart move to make, considering that the deals were already getting blown out of proportion and Nike were faced with a fight-or-flight situation.

When and where the next record will be set, we are yet to see. But looking back at the previous couple of years, we can safely bet on seeing another massive sponsorship deal pretty soon, if not the third one this year.