The last week has been pretty groundbreaking for football whether you have realised or not. It blew my mind that Eto’o has become the highest paid footballer ever, reportedly earning 60p per second, £36.16 per minute, £2,170 per hour, £52,083 per day, £364,583 per week and £1,458,333 per month-madness, if reports are correct. But it is not just players who have been making the financial headlines; When United played Spurs on Monday night I for one wasn’t just mesmerised by the young players’ ability to embarrass Spurs on the pitch, I was also astounded by the DHL emblems on their training gear.
Last year I thought Spurs and the board were financially savvy when they got two shirt sponsors in, one to cover their domestic games and one to cover their European trips, but once again United have shown that they are a cut above the rest with the DHL deal.
The £40m sponsorship deal for their domestic training kit surpasses the value of all but five main shirt sponsors in the Premier League. All but five? And this is just for a training kit!
The total, understood to be worth slightly over £40m across four years, exceeds the club’s main shirt deal with former sponsors Vodafone, which ended in 2005, and is around half the £80m a year that Aon pays to be emblazoned across their shirt. Apparently Aon knew about it, but I bet they aren’t too happy.
The club’s chief executive David Gill said the DHL deal “breaks new ground in the English game”. DHL’s logo will appear on training kit worn by first team, reserve and youth team players but only covers domestic fixtures.
Well it’s certainly done that. And next up it seems selling the naming rights to their Carrington training ground are up for grabs.
When I first read this my first thought was ‘money grabbing bastards – aren’t they rich enough?’ but when you sit down and look at it, I applaud them. For all the crap that fans give the Glaziers, they are great business men. And if fans want to ward off the ever-increasing threat to their Premier League dominance by those blues down the road, raking in as much cash as they can to go out and spend big on players is the only way to do that.
Of course this approach is in stark contrast to the likes of Blackburn who this season are wearing shirts with the Princes’ Trust emblazoned on them. I’m sure Blackburn fans love the fact that their club cares about charity, and granted it’s a very noble thing to do. But what happens at the end of the season if Blackburn are relegated? That £10mil or so of sponsorship money could have been used to buy that one quality player that might just have kept them up. Will Blackburn fans be so charitable then? DHL’s £40m could fund the signing of Sneijder and not even leave the club out of pocket.
Don’t expect that others won’t follow suit, this is a very American approach so it is no surprise that US-owned Manchester United were first to do it. La Liga sides plus Championship, League One and League Two sides previously broke new ground with sponsors on both shirts and shorts, but this is another level and shows the global appeal that Manchester United has. Neighbours Manchester City can only aspire to have such global dominance, Manchester United have outlined what a worldwide product the English Premier League has become by being able to command such a high fee for training kit. They have opened up new avenues to all clubs, it makes sense with players now pictured in training gear as much as first team kit.
As much as we hate to think it, football is a business. Plain and simple. It trades on stock markets and it keeps hundreds of millions of people employed throughout the world. And the way they are run affects every fan’s life from the moment they pick the team they will follow until they die. And if my club could rake in £40million for just having a name stitched onto a pair of shirts and a rain jacket, I know they’d snap their hand off and be laughing all the way to the bank. And so would their shareholders. So once again United I applaud you. Now could you lend us some cash?