Sponsorship Strategy: International Packages from the English FA

The English Football Association plans to increase its annual sponsorship revenue of around £35m (€41.6m/$55.5m) by selling newly-created global and territory-specific international sponsorship packages in its next four-year rights cycle.

According to Peter Daire, the FA’s group head of sponsorship, deals with telecommunications brands in Asian, African and North American markets will be the first targets.

“We’ve been active in international markets for a number of years,” he told Sports Sponsorship Insider. “However, we are expanding our assets and developing a new package of rights to sell. We are looking at territory-specific deals with a host of different partners.”

The FA’s next four-year sponsorship rights cycle runs from August 1, 2014 to July 31, 2018.

English Premier League clubs have been successful in agreeing similar deals in recent years. Manchester United has 14 telecommunications partners in different territories, including Bakcell in Azerbaijan, TM in Malaysia and Zong in Pakistan.

Soft drinks brand Big Cola is an existing partner for the FA in Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Big Cola renewed its deal this month for a further two years and to also cover Malaysia and Myanmar.

Big Cola’s deal focuses on social media promotions to increase fan engagement with the FA on digital and mobile channels. The FA is planning to link the new deals, which will be sold by Sean McAuliffe, global head of business development for The FA Group, as much as possible to its growing digital content. In April, the FA launched its first foreign-language website, in Mandarin Chinese.

The FA Group

Sponsorship revenue for The FA Group covers income from commercial partners of six areas of the organisation: the 24 national teams, the FA Cup, Wembley Stadium, football development (grass roots programmes), women’s football and the St George’s Park training and development centre.

The FA Group is the overarching commercial body for the FA and WembleyNational Stadium Ltd. England team and FA Cup deals, as well as those involving football development, women’s and St George’s Park, are owned and managed by the FA. Wembley Stadium partners are contracted to WembleyNational Stadium Limited.

The majority of FA Group sponsorship revenue comes from the 24 national teams – including the senior men’s team, youth teams, women’s teams, disability teams, the England C team and the England futsal team – the FA Cup and Wembley Stadium.

Football development is the fastest-growing commercial area, Daire said.

“As a not-for-profit organisation,the majority of the money and marketing in kind that the FA receives from sponsors goes back into grass roots and football development,” he said. “It’s the main thrust of what the FA does – making it easier for everybody to play and learn.”

Brands such as supermarket chain Tesco and fast food chain McDonald’s are exclusively involved in funding football development programmes. Other FA sponsors, including beer brand Carlsberg, confectionery brand Mars, sportswear company Nike and carmaker Vauxhall, are involved with grass roots initiatives as part of wider deals with the organisation.

Vauxhall and England

Vauxhall last month renewed its deal as the tier one Lead Sponsor of the 24 England teams for four years, 2014 to 2018. It is understood to be paying around £8m per year.

This fee is a 20-per-cent uplift on Vauxhall’s previous three-and-a-half-year contract with the FA, between 2011 and 2014, which was thought to be worth around £6.7m per year.

Chris Hornbuckle, Vauxhall’s head of sponsorship, told Sports Sponsorship Insider this month that sponsoring England had delivered on the goal of supporting brand awareness. “It is all about consideration of our brand as a purchase option,” he said. “We measure that and brand awareness and we’re very pleased with the results we’ve generated, which is why we’ve renewed for another four years.

“There are many variables that go into a decision of buying a car, it would be impossible to measure the impact of the sponsorship alone, so measuring awareness and consideration are the main metrics.”

Other England sponsors

The England teams are also sponsored by three Official Supporters (tier two) and five Official Suppliers (tier three).

Official Supporters are Nike, Mars and betting company William Hill. Each Official Supporter is likely to be paying between £3m and £4m per year.

Official Suppliers are Carlsberg, energy drink Lucozade Sport, retailer Marks & Spencer, personal care product Nivea For Men, and gym equipment supplier Technogym. Official Suppliers are understood to pay a cash fee of up to £1m per year each, plus value-in-kind contributions.

Official Supporters each receive 17.5 per cent of LED perimeter advertising board space at Wembley Stadium for home England games, are entitled to five player appearances each year, have rights to use England team intellectual property (IP) in marketing activity, and get hospitality and tickets.

Official Suppliers do not receive any LED board space, player appearances or player image rights, but are allowed to use England team IP including the Three Lions logo in their marketing. Carlsberg is an exception to this rule as it receives a small amount of LED signage and is permitted to use stock player imagery on its retail packs around major international tournaments.

Carlsberg is the long-standing beer partner of the FA and negotiated increased rights around the England team after competitor brand Budweiser signed as the Lead Partner of the FA Cup in 2011.

The FA is currently discussing renewal deals with all Official Supporters, after which it will negotiate renewals with Official Suppliers. It is currently not expecting any England team partners to end their association when current deals expire in 2014.

The FA Cup

US beer brand Budweiser is the Lead Partner of the FA Cup in a three-year deal, 2011-12 to 2013-14, valued at around £8m per year. Talks about extending the deal are underway.

“We would like to renew with Budweiser, there’s no doubt about that,” said Daire. “They are our first global FA Cup sponsor and they have activated the FA Cup in all of their territories, which is a first for us. They’re a fantastic brand and they are very impressive to work with.”

Below Budweiser, the FA Cup has three Official Supporters – Nike, William Hill and domestic appliance manufacturer Beko. Nike and William Hill have FA Cup rights as part of the same contracts which give them rights to the England teams. Beko pays a cash sum as well as supplying 1,300 televisions to the FA for use at Wembley Stadium and St George’s Park.

Official Supporters of the FA Cup are entitled to LED boards at the three games hosted at Wembley Stadium – two semi-finals and the final – as well as trophy appearances, rights to use the FA Cup logo, and ticket promotions.

Wembley Stadium

England’s national football stadium has eight supplier partners: Carlsberg, Mars and Nike, plus betting brand Betfred, soft drinks producer Coca-Cola, coach operator National Express, energy drink Red Bull and snacks brand Walkers. Wembley supplier deals are thought to be worth around £250,000 per year each.

Betfred was a partner of Wembley before William Hill signed as a partner of the FA. Betfred turned down the opportunity to become the betting partner of the England team and the FA Cup.

Both brands appear on England match days at Wembley – Betfred takes in-stadium bets while William Hill uses advertising to direct customers to its website and mobile app.

“Betfred is the stadium betting partner and have all the kiosks at Wembley Stadium during event days,” explained Daire. “When you come to place your bet here, at any event, it’s with Betfred.

“William Hill is an England and FA Cup Supporter and is focused on the in-home audience to promote their online services.”

Nike’s group-wide deal

Nike was confirmed as the England kit manufacturer in September 2012. Nike-owned Umbro was England’s previous kit partner and signed an eight-year renewal in 2010. Nike announced its decision to sell the Umbro brand in June 2012, but decided to retain the FA contract.

“It was certainly a lot easier because we were already technically working with the Nike team,” Daire said. “We know the guys at Nike really well and some of the staff moved from Umbro to Nike to oversee that transition, and are still there now.”

Nike’s agreement with the FA is a group-wide technical deal which consists of more than sponsorship cash. As well as paying a cash fee to sponsor St George’s Park, Wembley Stadium and the FA Cup, Nike supplies kit for all 24 England teams, match balls for the FA Cup, products to English county football associations and support for football development programmes.

Nike’s deal, including the value-in-kind elements, is thought to be worth well above the £20m per year Umbro was reported to be paying. A cash element believed to be around £3.5m per year is the only part that is attributed to the FA Group’s annual sponsorship revenue of around £35m.

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