Football Shirt Advertisement: A Short History With Facts

Believe it or not advertisements on football shirts haven’t always been the norm. In fact only about 40 years ago did placing advertisements on football shirts begin to take off and clubs started to make a nice bit of money from it. Previously football clubs only wore shirts that were the colour of the team they played for. Sometimes teams would display the logo of the company that made their kit but that was about it. Some of the first sports companies to do this were Admiral, Adidas, Umbro and Bukta.

The First Football Shirt Sponsorship
At the beginning of the 1970’s pressure began to mount up for clubs to accept sponsorship deals from other companies not just the clothing manufacturers. The first ever sponsorship deal is said to be that of the West German team called Eintracht Braunschweig. They accepted a deal from Jagermeister to display their company logo on the front of their shirts in 1973.

The First Football Shirt Sponsorship In The UK
The First ever football sponsorship deal in the UK was made between Kettering Town and Kettering Tyres. This deal was brokered by the chief executive of Kettering Town Derek Dougan who was previously a striker for Wolves but had retired. The advertisement was first displayed in their match against Bath City on January 24th, 1976. However only a few days later the FA ordered the advertisement to be removed immediately. At first Dougan just removed a few letters so the advertisement spelt “Kettering T”, which he argued stood for Kettering Town. But again he was ordered to remove this or he would receive a £1000 fine. But Kettering Town weren’t happy about this along with the clubs Derby County and Bolton Wanderers. They submitted a proposal to the FA to accept football shirt advertisement and in 1977 it was accepted. This was the start of the large scale commercialisation of British football.

Refusal To Broadcast
By the late 1970’s many football clubs were wearing advertisements across their shirts. However this sparked outrage by broadcasters and they refused to broadcast matches featuring sponsored shirts. Football clubs were forced to remove their shirt advertisements whenever there were any cameras present. Then finally in 1983 broadcasters gave up and decided to allow football shirts displaying advertisements to be shown live. As you can imagine the cost of sponsorship deals soon rocketed.

The Longest Advertisement Refusal
Only in 2009 after 111 years without any sponsorship did Barcelona accept a sponsorship deal. This deal was with Qatar foundation who are paying the club 30 million each year for 5 years. This move was said to be because the club was in huge debt and couldn’t survive much longer if it didn’t accept an advertisement deal. In November of this year it was announced that the advertisement displayed throughout the 2013/14 season would be Qatar Airways. A clause in the contract allowed this to happen.

The Most Controversial Advertisement Deal
What has got to be the most controversial advertisement deal is the numerous sponsorships to football clubs by payday lenders Wonga. Their sponsorship is always spurring debate on whether they should be allowed to advertise on football shirts. They sponsor a number of teams including Blackpool and Newcastle. There was some serious uproar over plans to name Newcastles stadium the Wonga Stadium.

The Strangest Football Shirt Advertisement
The BBC recently published an article that contains the two most obscure football shirt advertisements. They are both Greek teams one team, Voukefalas FC is sponsored by a local brothel whilst the other team, Palaiopyrgos FC is sponsored by a funeral parlor. Both teams have been questioned over their choice of sponsors but they say that it is the only thing keeping them out of debt and there are far more immoral sponsors out there.

This is a Guest Post by Nate Miller. Nate currently represents Invenio Marketing, an agency specialized high-quality lead development and outsourced sales.