Premier League Leads European Kit League Race

Hi everyone,
According to SPORT+MARKT, the combined value of English Premier League (EPL) kit deals has hit Eur109.7 million this season, making it the most lucrative market in European football for apparel contracts.

The 2012 European Football Kit Supplier Report, conducted by Sport+Markt and PR Marketing, detailed that English top-flight clubs averaged Eur5.5 million in revenue from kit deals in 2011-12, compared to an average of Eur3.3 million across Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues.

Premier League clubs will sell approximately four million jerseys this year, almost double that of the German Bundesliga. However, Andrew Walsh, head of international affairs at Sport+Markt, said that the Premier League kit deals offer other key benefits.

“The global reach of the English Premier League makes it a very attractive prospect for the world’s top sports merchandise manufacturers and, in turn, kit contracts are becoming an ever-more relevant source of income for the clubs,” he said.

“It’s not only about how many shirts you can sell, but about generating brand interest and loyalty and taking advantage of media exposure. Refinancing is also a major aspect – beyond simply supplying equipment, brands are looking to expand licensing agreements with the top clubs across the merchandising spectrum.”

Sport+Markt believes the growth trend that has allowed the kit supply market to grow by 48% in Europe’s top leagues since 2005 looks set to continue.

Walsh added: “What we’re also seeing now is that more up-and-coming manufacturers are entering the market and laying down the gauntlet to the traditional giants Adidas and Nike.

There are now 28 different equipment brands active in the ‘big five’ leagues. You only have to look at the scale of Liverpool’s new deal with Warrior, which kicks in next season, to gain a strong impression of where the market is going.”

Overall, Adidas and Nike account for 44% of the total Eur330 million spent by equipment manufacturers to secure rights for clubs from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 this season alone.

Andrew Walsh points are very accurate of where the football licensing market is heading. However, the most important element in my opinion is that the two giants, adidas and Nike, are no longer alone in the race. Under Armour is strengthening its european football presence with a deal with Spurs ($80 million over 5 years) and Warrior enters the race with a thunder by signing Liverpool FC over 6 years for $41 million a year.

The questions we, as marketers should be asking are the following: Are we witnessing a major shift with new brands entering the market, or is it just a trend that will not last very long? What’s your take on this?

Karl Lusbec