Among advertising’s most expensive billboards are the chests of Premier League
This week saw Everton strike a new apparel deal with Danish manufacturer Hummel, exercising an option to end their previous deal with Umbro early. The change will earn the Merseyside club an additional £4m-£5m a season with the Toffees also ending their sponsorship agreement with Kenyan betting form SportPesa two years early in the hope of finding something more lucrative.
And yet Everton’s new Hummel contract still seems them lag a long way behind their Premier League rivals when it comes to kit deals. The gulf between ‘The Big Six’ and the rest is vast. Manchester United are paid £75 million by adidas. Liverpool’s new deal with Nike
Arsenal and Chelsea both get £60 million a season from their respective shirt sponsors. Even Tottenham Hotspur, the closest to Everton in terms of their commercial profile as a club, are tied to a kit deal with Nike which sees their pockets lined with £30 million a season. Everton’s new £9 million-a season deal with Hummel doesn’t quite compare.
The Toffees are ambitious. They have their sights set on crashing the Premier League’s top six places, ultimately becoming a Champions League club in the not so distant future. They have plans for a new £500 million state-of-the-art stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool and have spent more in the transfer market than almost any other Premier League club in recent years, splurging around £450 million in four years while also luring three-time European winning manager Carlo Ancelotti last December.
But in the age of Financial Fair Play (FFP) restricting over-investment and the artificial inflation of commercial revenue, bridging the gap to the elite level has never been so difficult. Owner Farhad Moshiri has the money to push Everton to the top, but he is restricted from pumping in unlimited cash by UEFA, although FFP regulations have been somewhat relaxed.
There are many yardsticks with which to measure the gulf between the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ and the chasing pack, but recent movement in the shirt sponsorship marketplace (Chelsea have a new £40 million a season deal with telecommunications giant 3 from next season) makes it a particularly pertinent gauge.
The market could be about to shift further as clubs grow increasingly concerned over the threat of a complete ban on gambling and betting advertising in the United Kingdom. Advertising during live matches has already been banned, something a number of UK betting firms volunteered for, hinting at a certain nervousness over the possibility of even greater measures.
Everton chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale admitted that this heightened awareness of the saturation of gambling in soccer was a factor in the club’s decision to end its agreement with SportPesa. “In an ideal world moving forward we would look to have a different type of sponsor on the front of our shirts like all football clubs would, but that is a commercial decision that we make as a football club,” she said.
No fewer than 10 Premier League teams currently play with the logo of betting firms across their chest and so any government legislation passed to ban this would have a significant impact on the commercial revenue of several clubs. As if finding a lucrative sponsor to help close the gap on the elite wasn’t difficult enough. In these deals, the perpetual struggle of clubs like Everton is reflected.