Across the summer of 2022, Championship clubs showed off their newly-designed shirts that they would be wearing for the upcoming season. It is customary in the modern game for clubs to unveil a new kit every year, even if aesthetic changes are relatively minor. A new shirt does not necessarily mean a new sponsor though as such arrangements can last multiple seasons.
While this is not uncommon, you will find many sponsorship deals are more short-term, and indeed, many expired at the end of the 2021/22 season. Where an extension agreement could not be reached, this put clubs in the hunt for a brand-new name to feature on the front of their shirts (or shirt in some cases). As usual, all quests to find a new sponsor have been successful, leaving all 24 Championship clubs with a sponsored kit. Fans may prefer the look of sponsor-less shirts, and their retro vibe, but the money these deals bring means that offers cannot be turned down.
Shirt Sponsors for 2022/23
Unless specified otherwise, the named sponsor will be present on all shirts (home, away, third) for the 2022/23 season. This traditional format, is what most teams have followed except for Luton, Rotherham United, Swansea and Wigan who have different sponsors depending on the shirt. It is for this reason why the total number of shirt sponsors, divided into various categories, totals 29 rather than 24.
Gambling – 7
- Birmingham City – BoyleSports
- Coventry – BoyleSports
- Middlesborough – Unibet
- Stoke – bet365
- Sunderland – Spreadex Sports
- Watford – Stake.com
It should not come as a big surprise that betting firms are the most common type of sponsor in the Championship. This is simply because they have been willing to pay more compared to other companies in different industries. It is a big-money business and given the competition in the market, bookies are keen to find ways to increase their exposure. The demographic is also a perfect fit and so it is easy to see why betting sites are so keen to be involved with football sponsorship. Some bookies, like BoyleSports, do this through partnering with more than one club. This also applies to Stake.com as they agreed a deal with Premier League outfit Everton in 2022, despite their multi-year partnership with Watford penned in 2021.
It is interesting to note that a total of seven gambling sponsors does represent a decline compared to previous seasons. In the 2018-19 season for example, a massive 17 Championship clubs had a betting firm on the front of their shirt. Of these, five were sponsored by the same firm, casino company 32Red. It seems they have grown less fond of such deals in recent years though, as for the 2022/23, season they are only to be found on the front of (Glasgow) Rangers’ kit.
A possible reason for the decrease in numbers is that there has been talk of gambling firms being banned from sponsoring clubs in the division. No action has been taken thus far but knowing there is a risk that any deal may be forced to stop at fairly short notice makes partnerships with gambling firms less attractive.
Energy – 3
- Blackpool – Utilita
- Huddersfield Town – Utilita
- Luton Town (home) – Utilita
Rapidly increasing costs saw many energy companies go bust starting in 2021 but Utilita was one of those that survived. They are not part of the dominant ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers but do have nearly a million customers and a market share of around 3%. As energy firms do not often sponsor elite football clubs, seeing Utilita as the main brand for three Championship clubs is an especially unusual sight.
Football has become a huge part of the brand’s identity though as they have enjoyed some form of partnership with 25 clubs across England, Scotland and Wales. They even sponsor the Utilita Kids Cup & Girls Cup, something contested by over 22,000 junior footballers.
Utilita have been the main sponsor for Huddersfield and Luton since the 2021/22 season although in the case of the latter they only took over mid-season. Previously the energy company were the back of shirt sponsor but ‘contractual breaches’ by JB Developments meant Luton needed a new front-of-shirt name. As for the Blackpool deal, this one was penned in the summer of 2022 following the Seasiders’ promotion.
Housing – 2
- Queens Park Rangers – Convivia
- Swansea City (home) – Westacres
You may know nothing about Covivia before but the public housing specialists have reason for agreeing a sponsorship deal specifically with Queens Park Rangers. Not only are they a London-based firm but their founder and CEO Roy Ledgister is a lifelong fan of the club and season-ticket holder. Seeing your company’s name on the shirts of the club you have watched for so many years is no doubt quite the feeling.
Westacres on the other hand focus on luxury residential developments in South Wales, a place you will also find the city of Swansea. Their relationship with the football club is nothing new as the firm had been the back of shirt sponsor for the previous two seasons. Additionally, they sponsored both the North and South Stand (an arrangement which is continuing for 2022/23). The reason for not sponsoring all shirts, only the home shirt, is that the club wanted to have different names in order to ‘increase the exposure of their local partners’.
Automotive – 2
- Norwich City – Lotus Cars
- Reading – Select Car Leasing
After a long hiatus, the recognisable Lotus logo returned to the Norwich FC kit in 2021/22, sponsoring them as they endured an awful season in the Premier League. Prior to this, Lotus, who have their headquarters close to Norwich, in the village of Hethel, last featured on the club’s away shirt in 2006. The deal struck in 2021/22 only covered one-year but the car manufacture agreed to an extension, again covering all shirts, to ensure they remained as the main shirt sponsor.
Rather than their logo featuring though, as it did in 2021/22, this season’s shirt will just include the word ‘Lotus’. The reason for this is, presumably, because the name of the company is now much larger and thus easier to see.
As for Reading, they were subject to some mockery when changing their stadium name to the clunky sounding Select Car Leasing Stadium in 2021. Alongside the 10-year arrangement, the car & van leasing company agreed to be the main shirt sponsor until 2024. It is far from the coolest sponsor the Championship has seen but their new kit has received much praise. This is not due to Select Car Leasing but because of a creative design from the University of Reading that highlights the impact of climate change.
Each red stripe on the sleeve indicates a year that has been hotter than average (and blue the opposite) since Reading were founded 151 years ago. As well as this, the shirt is made from recycled plastic bottles, meaning the shirt too is completely recyclable.
Travel & Tourism – 2
- Cardiff City – Tourism Malaysia
- Hull City – Corendon Airlines
Since Vincent Tan took over Cardiff City, the Malaysian business man has taken the club’s sponsorship in a different direction. For the first nine years of his reign, the club’s main sponsor was ‘Visit Malaysia’ and then in 2020/21 it changed to Malaysia Berjaya. The Berjaya Corporation is the company Tan founded and is still executive chairman of. Translated, the new sponsor reads ‘Malaysia Success’ and there is a national patriotic song that goes by the same name.
There is a similar situation at Hull following their recent takeover by Turkish media mogul Acun Ilicali. For the start of the 2022/23, he was able to negotiate a deal with Turkish airline Corendon. Interestingly, this ended up being a two-way arrangement as Corendon ended up painting one of their Boeing 737-800s with the Hull crest and colours.
Non-Commercial – 2
- Swansea City (away) – Swansea University
- Wigan (home & away) – Big Help Project
As Swansea University is a public institution (receives money from the government to cover teaching and/or research) we opted to put this in the non-commercial category. The University was present on the front of the Swansea home shirt for the 2020/21 and all shirts for the 2021/22 seasons but you will only find them prominent on the away jersey this campaign.
Barcelona made headlines when famously naming Unicef as their “sponsor” in 2006, something of an unprecedented gesture at the time. They sacrificed lots of potential revenue in the process as Unicef did not pay for the privilege. It is unclear if Wigan have been as charitable as this but in any case, it is nice to see them promoting an award-winning charity that looks to tackle problems such as hunger, debt and inadequate housing.
Construction / Building Machinery – 2
- Luton Town (away) – Star Platforms
- Luton Town (third) – Ryebridge
Luton have opted to work with two local firms for their away and third kits. They will be hoping this approach works out better than last season as in early 2022 they were forced to terminate their arrangement with JB Developments. Exact details of what went wrong were not made public but it has not put Luton off pairing with a couple of smaller, locally based companies. It is such deals that show you that Luton continue to have a strong bond with the local community despite several recent promotions.
Finance/Investment – 2
- Rotherham United (away & third) – Asura Financial Technologies
- Wigan (third) – EPIC
There are no finance companies that will feature on the front of any Championship home shirt for the 2022/23 season but they are not completely without representation. Rotherham’s away and third kit features the ‘Asura’ name, a Glasgow company founded in 2017. During the 2021/22 season, Asura agreed to become a sleeve sponsor for Rotherham’s Papa John’s Trophy campaign but despite paying for this, they allowed Rotherham Hospice to take up their spot.
Some fans may recognise EPIC as being the sponsor for all of Wigan’s shirts during their successful 2021/22 campaign. In this new arrangement though, EPIC will only feature on their green and grey third shirt. The shirt includes names of supporters that became a #BELIEVE FansFund Founder, a new initiative that allows Wigan supporters to boost the strength of the club’s football operations.
Healthcare – 1
- Sheffield United – Randox
During the height of the pandemic through 2020 and 2021, Randox was a name you could hardly escape from. A common provider of home testing kits, you may well have used their services yourself at some point. In total, Randox received £777m from the UK government for COVID-related contracts, so this three-year deal with Sheffield United signed in 2021 will have been just a drop in the ocean for them.
Food – 1
- Millwall – Huski Chocolate
Quite an unlikely partnership this one but the Swedish chocolate company, Huski, obviously spotted good value in being the main sponsor of the Championship club, Millwall. They have really committed to the venture too, signing a lengthy five-year deal that started in 2019. Not only does the agreement mean Huski logo features on all matchday shirts but it also covers training wear too. Additionally, it means Huski have become Millwall Community Trust’s first ever principle partner.
E-Cigarettes – 1
- Blackburn – Totally Wicked
Although it is not permitted to have a cigarette or tobacco company emblazoned on a Championship shirt, for the time being a vaping companies have the green light. This may change in future but for now Blackburn are perfectly entitled to don the Totally Wicked logo with its distinctive font. The locally founded company started by being the main sponsor for training wear in 2018 before stepping in mid-way through the 2021/22 season to become the match day front-of-shirt brand.
Totally Wicked’s founder called the decision to stick with Rovers as an ‘emotional rather than commercial’ one. As a long-time fan of the club, he simply could not pass up the opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to the team and to the local area.
Football Shirts – 1
- Burnley – Classic Football Shirts
A bit of a meta sponsor this one as you have a company that sells football shirts being promoted on a football shirt. As Classic Football shirts does stock more modern kits, not just classics, it is only a matter of time before they will have some Burnley 2022/23 shirts in their own store. The one-year deal represents a first move into such high-level sponsorship for Classic Football Shirts and it will be interesting to see if they return in future.
Misc – 3
- Bristol City – Huboo
- Preston North End – PAR Group
- Rotherham United (home) – IPM Group
We have bundled the remaining three together because what they do is very specialised and does not really fit into a familiar sounding category. Huboo are involved in order fulfilment for eCommerce sellers, the PAR group sells rubber and plastic products used across industries, while the IPM group is a “multi-service Facilities Management organisation”, whatever that entails. If anyone can enlighten us, please do! The latter two deals were agreed in 2021 while Bristol City’s relationship with Huboo is new for 2022/23.