Manchester United will receive $559 million under its seven-year shirt sponsorship agreement with General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet division.
That’s almost $80m a year and more than double the $30.1m insurer Aon is now paying to have its brand on the team’s shirts.
Carrying a sponsor name is a highly effective if unsubtle form of marketing that has been a feature of European soccer since the 1970s. However, United’s deal with General Motors is certain to drive up the sums other top European clubs demand for turning their players into moving billboards.
As recently as 2006, Vodafone was paying only about $12.5m a year to sponsor the club’s kit. It was followed by AIG, which paid $21.7m a year between June 2007 and June 2010.
Then from 2010 to 2014 Aon Plc signed for 30.1m. But from 30.1m to $80mln, the difference it’s huge.
But shortly after the deal was signed, GM ousted Joel Ewanick, its chief marketing officer, after company officials questioned the propriety of the Manchester United deal.
Nigel Currie, managing director of U.K.-based marketing adviser BrandRapport, said GM’s deal with Manchester United is the richest in soccer.
“It’s incredible, unbelievable,” Currie said in a telephone interview of the GM deal.
Manchester United’s deal comes as the soccer team seeks to raise as much as $333 million in a U.S. initial public offering
A recent survey commissioned by the club estimated it had 659 million global followers – almost one in 10 of the population.
correction: From $12.5mln in 2006 to $80mln