Simon Chadwick, who is a Professor of Sport and Geopolitical Economy at Skema Business School in Paris, has insisted that the Premier League is on the cusp of a ‘sponsorship revolution’ after Tottenham’s record agreement with South Africa Tourism fell through.
Tottenham were thought to have agreed a £42.5m deal with the SA Tourism board at the start of this month, which would have been the most lucrative sleeve sponsor deal in the Premier League history (The Times).
However, the deal collapsed after Members of the South African parliament expressed their opposition to the agreement (BBC News).
Spurs are far from the only top-flight club who have explored sponsorships in the tourism sector, with Manchester United currently being sponsored by Visit Malta and Arsenal having a sleeve deal with Visit Rwanda.
Newcastle United reportedly sat down with officials from Botswana over the last few months to discuss a potential sponsorship agreement (Mmegi Sport).
Chadwick has now explained that many brands are expected to wake up to the fact that the Premier League remains a cost-effective advertising platform and opined that the commercial rights could grow significantly over the coming years.
He told Football Insider: “The Premier League has got to be the world’s most cost-effective advertising platform. You get 24/7, 365 coverage. People see your logo and know who you are.
“A TV advert during Coronation Street might cost you £70,000 for a 30-second slot. It’s more cost-effective to advertise through the Premier League.
“But I think there is also this notion of image transfer. Association with a premium sports brand makes you a premium destination. It projects a certain image for these tourist boards.
“Think about Arsenal and Visit Rwanda. That country hasn’t historically had the most positive associations. The partnership has addressed some of those reputational issues.
“It’s part of the positioning that these nations are trying to achieve. It offers coverage in a way that other advertising platforms don’t.
“Many believe commercial rights are undervalued. This is why we see this wave of North American investors moving into the Premier League. There is this consensus that it is an incredibly powerful proposition that is being undersold.
“I guess we’re are on the cusp of something of a sponsorship revolution. At the top end of the game, it may have plateaued but many would argue that with heavier selling, it will rise again.
“Sponsorship can be one source of more liquid revenue. The product has had enormous resilience for over 150 years and there is huge engagement with football. But there is much greater commercial value to be achieved.
“With many clubs, there is still a transactional culture in place. That means you sell, sell, sell. If you don’t hit your target numbers, you’re out.
“The focus is on trying to seal the deal and make the most money possible without asking too many questions. You’ve got to pay the salaries of these incredibly expensive footballers after all.
“From the perspective of Tottenham and South Africa, people are asking the same questions. This is a reaction to where the power rests commercially, which in football is the Premier League. People have resisted that and acted against it.
“But I think the transactional culture is a reflection of what happens on the field: you win at all costs. You don’t ask the searching questions that you should be asking.
“Supporters are complicit. They could boycott and take direct action, but they don’t. We are all part of this ecosystem that allows socially undesirable sponsors in football.”
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This is one of the reasons why so many investors are willing to spend billions to take over Premier League clubs as the commercial rights could well grow significantly over the coming decades as the league continues to grow in popularity in Asia, North America and Africa.
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