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The Scudamore years | Sponsorship

From a sponsorship perspective, Peter Daire, founding partner at  sports rights and marketing agency Sport Collective, thinks Scudamore ought to be remembered more for the partnerships the Premier League refrained from signing during his tenure than for the deals it struck.

He is referencing the League’s decision not to pursue a strategy of having a title sponsor after Barclays concluded its deal in 2016 and to focus instead on signing category partners.

“Barclays were paying circa £40m a year but when you split that 20 ways it doesn’t go very far when you consider what [the clubs] earn for one game on Sky,” he says.

The decision gave the league the freedom to create a new brand identity and placated club owners who had partnerships with competing financial services companies or designs on signing sponsors in this category.

“I lived through that. I know how difficult that is,” says former Premier League chief executive Rick Parry. “I remember the argument of the major clubs saying you’re here to organise the competition and sell the TV rights, and you’re not here to take [sponsorship] rights away from us.

“We did have aspirations right from the start to have much more centralised sponsorship, to have title sponsors, category sponsors, to be something that looked more like the World Cup or the Champions League but it was never possible. Given the tension that it causes and given the amount of money involved – it is probably 1% of the value of the TV deal – there was absolutely no point in causing unnecessary tension over amounts that are actually relatively small.”

Like Parry, Phil Lines is reluctant to categorise the decision as a strategic masterstroke from Scudamore, arguing instead that it was probably led by the clubs, but he does think it was further evidence of the chief executive’s tact and diplomacy.

“One of Richard’s more abstract skills was understanding the way the wind was blowing and reacting accordingly,” he says.

Premier League central sponsorship revenues were not adversely impacted by the move away from a title sponsorship. For the 2015-16 season, the last season of the bank’s £40m-a-season title partnership, combined Premier League central sponsorship revenues stood at roughly £75m per season. In the 2016-17 season, they stayed flat at around the same figure, as the loss of the £40m a season the bank paid for the title sponsorship was offset by the £10m a season it paid to move across into the league’s official bank designation. Added to this was a new partnership with Tag Heuer (to become the league’s official timekeeping partner) and an uplift in renewals with EA Sports, Carling and Topps.

In the 2018-19 season, central sponsorship revenues rose to £83m thanks to a three-season deal with Cadbury worth £8m a season. The recent £10m Coca-Cola deal took central sponsorship revenues to roughly £93m a season and central commercial revenues – the figure combining sponsorship, licensing, radio rights and a share of FA and EFL cup sponsorship revenues that the Premier League publishes in its annual payments to clubs – to around £106.77m.

Part 1: Media rights sales

Part 3: International expansion and the 39th game

Part 4: Match attendances and the fan

Part 5: Scudamore’s successor

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