According to a recent report in the Mirror, Sir Bobby Robson, England manager between 1982 and 1990, ‘authorised requests’ for his players to celebrate in particular areas of the pitch so as to maximise exposure for specific brands that were advertising within the stadium. The allegations, raised by former agent Jon Smith – a man once in charge of the England team’s commercial affairs – have made headlines following the release of Smith’s latest book.
Though slightly unusual, and perhaps moderately unethical, the claims just go to show that advertising has been a huge part of football for many years. However, 30 years on from Robson’s England reign, advertising is now not only far more prevalent in the game, but has done the sport – and especially England’s Premier League – more flush with cash than ever before.
In February 2015, the Premier League sold the television rights for its games for a colossal £5.136 billion – a 71% increase when compared to the previous agreement, was signed in 2012. English football is a huge deal, and advertisers are more than willing to pay vast sums of money to get their name and products seen during televised games.
According to figures released by the Economist, Britain’s top 20 teams managed to bring in around €330m (£280m) from shirt-sponsorship revenues alone in 2015-16 – a colossal amount of money, and one-third more than what was raked in from the same stream in the previous season.
In a world full of on-demand TV, and with viewers of live television shows decreasing, televised football is one of the only times advertisers can guarantee they will have millions of eyes on the screen at a particular time. Advertisers are more than willing to spend massive amounts of money so as to ensure their name gets out there – not only because it is a fantastic opportunity to be seen, but also because of the prestige it affords them. If you can make your brand visible during the most exclusive of television slots, then automatically people will trust the name as view it as reliable – even if only at a subconscious level.
Advertising and football are a match made in heaven and, with the Premier League thriving and companies happy to splash money to remain visible, it seems that trend will only continue in the years to come.