A new sponsorship dawn for the 2016/2017 Premier League season:

On August 13th the FA Premier League is back for the 2016/2017 season, after what feels like a very short break. If last year was the Premier League season of the underdog, with Leicester City lifting the trophy and defying all odds¸ we are expecting this season will be as exciting – well in our business of sponsorship at least. It is all change across the Irish Sea, and Livewire can’t wait to see how the season unfolds.

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The Premier League has shed its lead sponsor, Barclays, after 15 years and is adopting a new sponsorship model with multiple brands and no naming rights. Following similar models to American sports, The European Champions Cup and of course similar to our long established GAA Hurling and Football model, one wonders why did it take so long for the powers that be, to adapt to a more modern sponsorship structure? Anyway, the Lion has a fresh new face, there’s a new logo to match the changes this season, and with incredible TV deals one can only see The Premier League continue to go from strength to strength. At least one third of Livewire, hope this season will be a turning point for Man Utd, while our Head of Sport faces another season of being a frustrated Arsenal fan.

The clean brand strategy will certainly help the Premier League in communicating to its global audience, though Barclay’s had designs on being more of an international brand too. Barclay’s stay on as a key partner in the new model and is joined by many leading brands, some of whom we have seen as the title sponsor before, namely Carling.

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Carling first sponsored the Premier League after its inaugural year, which remained unsponsored, something that is hard to believe now. Carling sponsored for 8 years from 1993 until Barclay’s took over in 2001, initially calling it the Barclaycard Premier league for the first 3 years.

Other brands who have jumped on board include; Nike, EA Sports and Tag Heuer. The latter being a new partner for fourth officials and they will wear special Tag watches for timing purposes during matches. This sees the luxury brand move away from elite sport sponsorship such as Golf & Tennis into more mainstream football world. However, this is not its first deal in football having recently partnered with German Bundesliga, MLS and Chinese Super League. Most of these brands have signed three year deals with the Premier League bringing their partnerships up until the 2018/2019 season.

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The absence of the long established Barclays brand sponsorship is not the only major brand change hitting our screens this August. Sky Sports also starts the season with new brand partners, having lost its headline sponsor Ford, after an incredible 24 years since the beginning of The Premier League in 1992, how could we possibly call it anything other than Ford Super Sunday?! This has opened the door for Bet365 and rival car brand Nissan to take up a split sponsorship package for an initial 3 year period. This sees Nissan extending its football footprint beyond their Champions League sponsorships.

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Nissan will take up the sponsorship of all Saturday and Sunday matches, as well as sole sponsorship on the website, including reviews, previews, articles, stats & facts. This includes sponsorship around the 3pm Saturday game, which will be broadcast in Ireland. Nissan’s brand mantra is ‘Innovation that Excites’, and there’s no doubt that the Premier League is one of the more exciting leagues around, while Sky Sports has been a leading innovator in coverage and analysis. Bet365 take up the remaining games, the new Friday evening games, Monday games and 100% of all games shown in 40,000 commercial premises across the UK & Ireland. It does seem strange that bet365 doesn’t present a clash with Sky Bet, but commercially it must stack up.

Livewire estimates that this sponsorship deal will add over 1,500 TV ratings to Nissan’s TV coverage in Ireland alone. This is important in a market where TV ratings for the car sector can be difficult to come by, with RTE closing their books to cars on two occasion this year, due to high volume of spends. For Nissan it also means access to the hard to reach 15-34 year old male market (and this 37 year old mother of 2).

One imagines that the two new co-sponsors are collectively paying more for their deals than Sky netted from Ford, helping in a small way to pay back the enormous increase paid by Sky for the privilege of broadcasting the games. They paid an increase of 83% on their previous deal, in a deal worth £4.18bn.

Between the TV deals and the multi-sponsor model, England’s show piece football league is certainly stronger than ever. At the same time the clubs themselves are continuing to bring in plenty more cash with shirt deals about to reach their highest levels yet, collectively bringing in close to £227 million. Man Utd’s deal is approx. 21% of this figure at £47m.

So for us sponsorship geeks we will be waiting in anticipation to see how the new set of sponsors of the Premier League will add value to the fan experience. We are hoping to see exciting activation strategies and to see what we can learn and reapply in this market. Having said that, they could certainly learn a thing or two about leveraging multi-sponsor opportunities and creating uniquely valuable space amongst many brands, by looking at the superior activation strategies here from the likes of SuperValu, AIB and Liberty Insurance.