As forecasted in our blog post back in April, it wasn't long before other Premier League teams followed Manchester City's lead in announcing major tie-ups for shirt sleeve sponsorship.
On Saturday, Chelsea FC was the latest club to announce an official sleeve partner for the 2017/18 season, with club shirt sponsor Yokohama extending its existing partnership rights. From next season, the logo of Yokohama sub-brand Alliance Tyres will feature on the sleeves of the team's 2017/18 shirts.
Chelsea follow Southampton (Virgin Media), Leicester City (Siam Commercial Bank), Manchester City (Nexen Tire), Crystal Palace (Dongqiudi), Watford (138.com), Huddersfield (PURE Business Group), Stoke City (Top Eleven) and Swansea City (Barracuda) who have already made use of the new commercial opportunities presented by the FA's relaxation on advertising rules relating to shirt sleeve sponsorship.
As set out in the FA Guide to Advertising Regulations, the new Regulations for 2017/18 expressly permit sponsor advertising on "one single area not exceeding 100 square centimetres on the sleeve of the shirt" (section C.1(a)), which was announced following the end of the Barclays / Premier League title sponsorship deal last year. Interestingly, the new Regulations also permit a slightly larger front of shirt logo (now a maximum of 250 square centimetres for the 2017/18 season, up from 200 square centimetres in the 2016/17 season). The new Regulations provide a useful visual representation of the permitted sponsor designations for next season (see page 18 of the FA Guide) for those who are keen to review.
Although the financial details of most arrangements have not been made public, the deals highlight the potential opportunities for new and existing sponsors to create or expand partnerships with football clubs, and reap the various commercial benefits (including increased brand awareness, brand association and brand equity).
Given that the uptake on sleeve partnerships has been relatively slow, it seems likely that many sponsors and clubs have been navigating their way through various commercial issues under existing sponsorship deals. Whether you are a sponsor or a club, the importance of carefully planning and negotiating sponsorship agreements (and considering the obstacles under any agreements already in place) is clear. With the landscape of advertising changing so rapidly, clubs and sponsors must future-proof their sponsorship deals, and have a keen eye on exclusivity clauses which can make or break future opportunities for advertising income.