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EXCLUSIVE: New Champions League sponsors set to come on board as seven offers accepted

(Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Uefa and Team Marketing, its appointed agency for club team competitions, are closing in on a clean sweep of agreed Uefa Champions League sponsorship deals for the 2021-24 cycle with offers accepted for seven of the eight global packages available.

While the proposed deals are at varying stages of either being agreed in principle or contracted, SportBusiness understands that at least two new sponsors are set to be added for the next cycle.

One of those is Oppo, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, which is understood to have had its offer accepted for a global package.

Oppo, which has been working with the Chinese arm of the Lagardère Sports agency, has been making increased moves in sports sponsorship.

The brand was this week named as a Boston Marathon sponsor in a four-year deal. In the last 12 months, Oppo has extended sponsorship agreements with Barcelona and the International Cricket Council, while becoming a sponsor of Wimbledon, the tennis grand slam, and the League of Legends esports series.

Meanwhile, US-based shipping giant FedEx is expected to step up from its current role as a Europa League sponsor to become one of the eight Champions League sponsors.

Just under a year ago, FedEx announced a wide-ranging agreement with Uefa to sponsor Euro 2020 (plus the European Qualifiers), the Nations League Finals, European under-21 Championships and the Uefa Futsal Euro 2022.

Until now, only an extension with Heineken, the Dutch beer brand and long-standing tournament sponsor, has been announced for the next cycle.

Team is understood to have either accepted offers from or contracted deals with some other existing sponsors of Europe’s top-tier clubs competition. Pepsi is thought to be one of the current sponsors to have had an offer accepted with competition in the soft drinks sector driving up the price significantly.

Along with Heineken and Pepsi, there are global Champions League sponsorship deals in place for the current cycle (2018-19 to 2020-21) with Expedia (Hotels.com), Gazprom, Mastercard, Nissan, PlayStation and Santander.

Companies interested in the eighth and final global sponsorship slot have been invited to submit offers to Team by April 3. The offers can be made across any open product category.

Team’s impressive progress in sponsorship sales for the next cycle comes as the global sale of media rights to the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League continues apace.

That broadcast rights sales process has delivered notable rights fee increases in different markets.

Elements of live free-to-air coverage have also been reintroduced in major markets, including France and Germany, where packages were acquired by free-to-air broadcasters TF1 and ZDF, respectively. During the lucrative 2018-21 sales process, there were no deals agreed with free-to-air broadcasters in any of Europe’s ‘big five’ markets, despite calls from Heineken for increased exposure.

The Champions League extension with Heineken was announced in November last year. That deal also includes sponsorship of Euro 2020 and involves the Heineken-owned beer brand Amstel becoming a partner of the new Europa Conference League (as well as continuing Amstel’s sponsorship of the Europa League).

The main Europa League sponsors during the current cycle are Amstel, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, FedEx, Hankook and Kia.

Adidas is the official ball supplier to the Champions League but was replaced by Molten as the Europa League ball supplier from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

Commercial rights revenues generated by the Uefa club competitions – from sponsorship, licensing and merchandising rights – generated a total of €1.38bn ($1.53bn) between 2018-19 and 2020-21, or an average of just over €458m per season. Media-rights revenue totalled €8.27bn in media rights across the three seasons, equal to an average of €2.75bn per season.