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Braunschweig was the first team worldwide to have Jägermeister as a shirt sponsor in 1973

Shirt Sponsor: The Original Story And History Since 1973

A football shirt sponsor is standard today, but it is a relatively new phenomenon. When Liverpool Football Club signed a shirt sponsorship deal with Hitachi in 1979, it was believed that it was the first English club to take football along this path.

Forty-three years on, the twenty English Premier League clubs are enjoying brokered shirt sponsor deals worth £400 million in the 2022-23 season. To give you perspective, the shirt sponsorship deal ten years ago was £100 million per year.

kettering town

First English Shirt Sponsor

Kettering Town, many miles away from Anfield, was the site of the first such deal. Against Bath City in January 1976, Kettering Town, playing in the Southern League, became the first British club to wear sponsorship on its shirts after signing a deal with Kettering Tyres.

In his first month as chief executive, Derek Dougan negotiated the “four-figure” deal. Despite Dougan’s claim that the 1972 sponsorship ban had not been written down, the Football Association (FA) immediately declared the move offside and ordered the shirt sponsor text to be removed.

football shirt sponsorship deal signed by liverpool and hitachi

A ground-breaking sponsorship deal between Liverpool and Hitachi marked the first time a professional club in the first division had a shirt sponsor. Hitachi’s name was on Liverpool’s jerseys in all local games without televised broadcasts under a deal worth GBP 100,000 over two years. After that, all the top-tier clubs followed.

For example, Talbot sponsored Coventry City in 1980, which pioneered shirt sponsorship in English football clubs. The chairman, Jimmy Hill, negotiated a deal with the company manufacturing cars in the city. They continued their support of Coventry until 1983. The Sky Blues were the first to do an official kit manufacture deal in 1974 with Umbro.

A three-year contract worth £500,000 was signed by Arsenal with JVC two years later, in 1981. This was seen as an incredible deal at the time. In the 2022-23 season, Arsenal now receives £40 million per year from their current shirt sponsor, Emirates.

liverpool had first shirt sponsorship in first division

First Worldwide Football Shirt Sponsorship

While the English Premier League is easily the most commercially successful today, German club Eintracht Braunschweig was the first team worldwide to have Jägermeister (digestif brand) as a shirt sponsor in 1973.

The club was reported to be several million Deutsche Marks in debt and struggled to compete with bigger clubs due to a lack of capital. In exchange for replacing their traditional lion with the deer logo of Jägermeister, the club will receive DM500,000 over five seasons.

Eintracht Braunschweig proposed the idea to the German football association (DFB) in August 1972, but it was unsurprisingly dismissed. The DFB told referees not to start matches if Eintracht Braunschweig wore a Jägermeister kit.

On 24 March 1973, the German club wore its adapted kit after legal battles. Towards the end of the season, the DFB relented and allowed sponsor names on shirts. Several Bundesliga clubs quickly signed lucrative deals for their shirt sponsorship, including Eintracht Frankfurt, Fortuna Düsseldorf, and HSV.

German club Braunschweig did the first shirt sponsors deal in history

Most Valuable Deals

The top five shirt sponsorship deals in soccer history are:

  1. Real Madrid – Emirates – 70 million Euro/season
  2. Paris Sait-Germain – Accor – 65 million Euro/season
  3. FC Barcelona – Spotify – 57.5 million Euro/season
  4. Manchester City – Etihad – 55 million Euro/season
  5. Manchester City – TeamViewer – 55 million Euro/season

Germany’s biggest shirt sponsor deal is Bayern Munich (Deutsche Telekom) at 45 million Euro per season. This is the same amount for Italy’s most valuable shirt sponsor deal. That is Juventus, who is currently sponsored by Jeep.

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Premier League Shirt Sponsors

In 2022, the English Premier League is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Unfortunately, not all clubs have reported their shirt sponsor deals, so we need to go back a couple of seasons.

We’ve ranked every 2019-20 Premier League club by how much revenue the shirt sponsorship received. We can report this accurately as the sponsorship values have now been reported or officially disclosed.

1. Manchester United

Premier League Sponsor: Chevrolet

Value: £64 million

2. Manchester City

Premier League Shirt Sponsor: Etihad

Value: £45 million

3= Arsenal

Arsenal Kit Sponsors: Emirates

Value: £40 million

3= Chelsea

Football Kit Sponsor: Yokohama

Value: £40 million

3= Liverpool

Liverpool Shirt Sponsor: Standard Chartered

Value: £40 million

6. Tottenham Hotspur

Sponsor: AIA

Value: £35 million

7. West Ham

Premier League Shirt Sponsors: Betway

Value: £10 million

8. Everton

Premier League Sponsor: SportsPesa

Value: £9.6 million

9. Wolves

Sponsor: ManBetX

Value: £8 million

10= Burnley

Sponsor: LoveBet

Value: £7.5 million

10= Southampton

Sponsor: LD Sports

Value: £7.5 million

12= Crystal Palace

Sponsor: ManBetX

Value: £6.5 million

12= Newcastle United

Premier League Shirt Sponsor: Fun88

Value: £6.5 million

12= Watford

Sponsor: Sportsbet.io

Value: £6.5 million

15. Aston Villa

Premier League Sponsor: W88

Value: £6 million

16. Bournemouth

Sponsor: M88

Value: £5 million

17. Leicester City

Football Kit Sponsor: King Power

Value: £4 million

18. Sheffield United

Premier League Shirt Sponsors: USG

Value: £3.5 million

19. Norwich City

Shirt Sponsors: Dafabet

Value: £3 million

20. Brighton & Hove Albion

Premier League Sponsor: American Express

Value: £1.5 million

nottingham forest has no shirt sponsor

Are You Required To Have A Shirt Sponsor

It is not mandatory for Premier League clubs to wear sponsors on their shirts, but new rules will specify who they can sign agreements with.

The proposed legislation is expected to prevent clubs from advertising gambling companies on their shirts. To avoid a government ban, the Premier League is asking clubs to support phasing out football shirt sponsorship by gambling companies.

Due to the growing reliance on gambling revenue by English football’s top clubs, the issue has become sensitive. Nearly half of Premier League clubs have a betting or gambling company as their shirt sponsor.