There has been a lot of discussion recently about the number of betting company logos featuring on football shirts. Although such logos are widespread, these types of business have generally avoided signings deals with the very biggest clubs in the world. Whether not being able to afford it, or not deeming it good value for money, either way a list of the biggest shirt sponsorship deals in football has a complete absence of gambling firms. Instead, you have a mix of companies from other areas ranging from airlines to banks.
There are two ways of determining what the ‘biggest’ sponsorship deals are. One is to look at the total value of the deal, so how much it is worth over the full duration of the contract. The other is to look at what the deal is worth annually and order deals based on this sum. Clubs themselves are usually more bothered about the annual fee, as finding a new sponsor following the end of one deal is rarely a problem for these elite teams. Still, there can be some benefits to more long-term partnerships, especially if on-field performances begin to suffer.
For the purposes of this list, we will be taking the largest per-season value to mean the biggest, for a few reasons. One is that the length of deals is not always known, meaning you cannot work out its full value, or you have to rely on unconfirmed information. Another is that the more typical definition for ‘biggest’ is the one that pays the most per season. Asked to decide which is bigger between a one-year deal at £50m and a three-year deal at £20m a season, most would pick the former.
For the sake of consistency, figures are provided in Euros. Some are confirmed totals whereas others are reported or estimated figures, which are rarely far off the truth. Note that it is possible for some sponsorship deals to have performance-related bonuses, such as a team winning a domestic or continental trophy, which will trigger an additional payment. These do tend to be quite small in relation to the entire deal value though and such add-ons, should they exist, are not always reported in the press.
Biggest Shirt Deals by Annual Value
In descending order, here is a list of the active sponsorship deals with the highest total value, excluding those expiring at the end of the (2022/23) season. Man Utd’s €275m deal with TeamViewer, which has been included, may well expire at this point but this is dependent on them finding a new sponsor and is not assured to cease. Figures provided only include the value of the latest agreements/extensions, not the total sum of all extensions.
At the time of writing, some clubs had already secured new deals for the 2023/24 season onwards, others had not. Where such deals have been confirmed, these have been included.
- Sponsor – Emirates
- Annual Value – €70m
- Total Value – €210m
- Duration – 2023 to 2026
Not content with just having a long-standing deal with Premier League outfit Arsenal, UAE airline Emirates has also been the principal partner of Real Madrid since 2013. The famous white shirts have been a tremendous money-earner for the Spanish giants over the years but particularly recently. In 2019, they renewed their kit deal with Adidas, an eight-year agreement worth a reported €1.1bn. In addition to this Adidas money, Madrid also benefit from the €70m-a-season they get from Emirates as the main sponsor.
When the two first forged an partnership in 2013, they agreed a five-year contract worth around €25m a season (potentially hitting €30m if bonuses were reached). Even with bonuses though, this deal was worth less than many had anticipated, being less valuable than deals the likes of Barcelona and Man Utd had in place. When renewing the contract in 2017 though, Madrid did cash in big, this time agreeing on a €70m annual fee. It is believed the latest renewal, agreed in 2022, had the same base fee with some performance linked-add-ons.
- Sponsor – Spotify
- Annual Value – €70m*
- Total Value – €280m*
- Duration – 2022 to 2026
For a long time Barca did not have a shirt sponsor at all, strange as that is to believe these days. Until 2006 they wore unadorned kit, adding UNICEF for free between then and 2011, so only having a commercial partner for little more than a decade! How things have changed…
Their current deal is certainly not the most straightforward shirt sponsor arrangement to look at because it formed part of an even wider agreement. Although the front-of-shirt sponsor spot represented the biggest portion of the deal, Spotify also bagged the naming rights for the Camp Nou. As well as some other smaller elements, like becoming the club’s official audio streaming partner, the entire package is believed to be worth €300m according to Spanish news outlet Sport.
Sport found the breakdown of the deal was along the lines of €60m-a-year for the men’s team sponsor, €5m for the training shirt sponsor (back of) and €5m for the women’s shirt. The remaining €5m a season was for the stadium naming rights but this is just temporarily low while construction takes place at the historic stadium. When the work is complete, and the ground is back to full capacity, it is believed that Spotify will pay in the region of €20m to €25m to remain part of the Nou Camp’s name.
- Sponsor – Qatar Airways
- Annual Value – €60 to €70m
- Total Value – Unknown
- Duration – 2022 to unknown
Qatar’s national airline had already enjoyed a cosy relationship with the Ligue 1 giants prior to penning this recent deal. Back in 2020 they agreed terms to become the club’s premium partner which cost them in the region of €5m to €10m a season. They took their partnership to the next stage soon after though by agreeing to become the club’s front-of-shirt sponsor, taking over from multi-national hotel chain Accor.
Given that PSG’s owner is the Emir of Qatar, this is not a remotely surprising relationship, nor is it surprising that it is a very lucrative deal. Although exact figures were not made public, sources indicate that Qatar Airlines pay a sum similar to that which Accor did, which puts it within the €60m to €70m range. It is big money but the airline has been happy to splash the cash when it comes to increasing visibility of their name. Previously they have penned deals to become the front-of-shirt sponsor for European titans Barcelona and Roma, plus the sleeve sponsor of Bayern Munich, much to the dismay of their own supporters.
Unsurprisingly, PSG fans were less upset about their own deal although there were those that raised concerns about the strengthening ties between football clubs and foreign governments. During the same week Newcastle signed a deal with the platform Noon, which is part-owned by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund. If Man City are anything to go by, PSG will likely play down the government’s role in their deal with Qatar Airways but it is likely to come under some scrutiny.
- Sponsor – Etihad
- Annual Value – €60m*
- Total Value – Unknown
- Duration – Unknown
Man City’s links with the UAE date back to 2008 when Sheik Mansour took control of the club. Soon after he took the reins at the very-much-sleeping giants, the Etihad logo has been easy to spot across the on-brand-named Etihad Stadium, most visibly on the front of the players’ shirts (starting 2009/10).
The club and the airline signed a huge long-term deal in 2011, one that had an expiration of 2021. Although there was no official word of a renewal, there must have been one as there has been no pause in Etihad’s sponsorship of Man City. Usually, the press are able to get hold of such details, even if there is no official announcement, but the extension of the deal was almost secretive.
According to the The Athletic though, the sponsorship is thought to be worth £67.5m a season, making it a decent slice of the club’s £331m commercial income. This does, however, appear to include the stadium naming rights which would be worth at least €15m, if not more. Ultimately, it is a hard shirt sponsorship deal to give a real figure for. €60m seems to be a fair estimate though, and one that considers high inflation and Man City’s growing place among Europe’s elite.
- Sponsor – Standard Chartered
- Annual Value – €56m
- Total Value – €224m
- Duration – 2023 to 2027
Although their existing deal was only set to expire at the end of the 2022/23 season, Standard Chartered move quickly to secure another extension with the Merseyside club. Adding a further four years onto their sponsorship deal, it means the multinational bank will stay at Anfield until at least 2027. While most Premier League clubs tend to swap sponsors every few years, this particular partnership has been extremely long-lasting.
The pair first joined forces in 2010 in a deal worth an estimated £20m a season. By the time of the second extension signed in 2018, this figure had doubled, partly due to a general inflation of sponsorship fees. There was also a sense that the Reds had a bright long-term future under Jurgen Klopp, who signed with the club in 2015 following his move from Borussia Dortmund.
- Sponsor – TeamViewer
- Annual Value – €55m
- Total Value – €275m*
- Duration – 2021 to 2026*
The reason for the * on this entry is that TeamViewer basically made a massive error penning this deal and want out. In 2022, the company reported annual sums of £43.5m, showing just how costly a sponsorship deal of this size was for them. TeamViewer, who also signed a deal with the Mercedes Formula 1 team the same year, came under heavy criticism from their own investors for signing such expensive deals. Petrus Advisers, who had around a 3% share in the company, called it “appalling judgement”.
We will not go into the Mercedes deal but it does seem that TeamViewer bosses soon realised their mistake with their extremely costly Red Devils contract. As such, they spoke to the club to see if they would be open to ending the deal early. Although United had no obligation to agree, they were mindful that the Germany company may struggle to meet the financial commitments of the contract. This is especially true given their share price had plummeted around 70% from when the partnership was first announced.
The pair mutually agreed that the deal would end as soon as United could find themselves a new sponsor. Due to this, we are likely to see a new company on the front of the Man United shirt for the 2023-24 season. For this to happen, United will effectively buy back the rights to their front shirt sponsorship, allowing them to sign terms with someone else. Interest in one of the world’s most famous clubs will no doubt be high, especially with United looking set for a return to Champions League football. TeamViewer will desperately be hoping a deal is done before they spend more money on an arrangement they cannot really justify.
- Sponsor – Deutsche Telekom
- Annual Value – €50m
- Total Value – €200m
- Duration – 2023 to 2027
Deutsche Telekom has had an extremely long relationship with Bayern and this seems to be the way the club operate with their shirt sponsors. The Bavarian side have only ever had six companies on their shirt, and the previous one, Opel, lasted between 1989 and 2002. Since being replace by Deutsche Telekom for the 2002/03 season, there has been no other change. Many of you may think €50m is a lot of money for a company you have never heard of but Deutsche Telekom are huge and operators of some more familiar subsidiaries such as T-Mobile.
The exact branding on the Bayern shirt has changed over the years, sometimes reading T Mobile, other times T Com but more recently is has simply been ‘T’ with four square dots. It is an extremely familiar sight for Bayern fans by this stage and this will likely continue to be the case, as the company extended their current sponsorship agreement by another four years. The €50m a season deal represents a €5m a year increase in the previous deal.