Uefa takes another run at crypto by inviting Champions League sponsor bids

(Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
(Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Uefa has launched a process inviting bids from prospective sponsors in the crypto exchange category to fill its Champions League sponsorship portfolio and has already received one offer from the sector.

The deal would be for the commercial cycle running from 2024-25 to 2026-27. The global sponsorship sales process is handled by the Team Marketing agency.

Uefa and Team are returning to the crypto sector after having previously missed out on a highly lucrative agreement with Crypto.com, as exclusively revealed by SportBusiness in August 2022. The crypto brand had been lined up as a replacement for Gazprom.

That deal would have run from 2021-22 until 2026-27 and been worth around €100m (then $99.9m) per season, making it one of Uefa’s largest-ever sponsorships, but it fell through at the last minute. It is understood to have been the most advanced stage of a negotiation at which a Uefa commercial deal has ever collapsed.

The sudden ending of the negotiation was not thought to be linked to the financial crisis which engulfed the crypto sector. The issue was said to be related to legal advice the company took regarding its discussions with national regulators in some key territories, including the UK, France and Italy, about the scope of its licences to trade and operate.

Uefa and Team also went to market in 2021 for regional crypto sponsorship rights, as well as Champions League licensing rights in the cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and fan token space, which were awarded to Socios in February 2022.

The tender does not specify if the offer Team and Uefa have already received from the sector is for a global or regional sponsorship package.

Parties interested in the tender must submit bids by 5pm (CET) on March 20.

So far, Uefa has officially announced three sponsors for the Champions League for the next three-year cycle. Last month, food delivery brand Just Eat Takeaway.com extended its sponsorship of Uefa men’s club competitions following a tender process was launched in June.

SportBusiness broke the news that PepsiCo was the first brand to renew its Global Partner-level deal in June and revealed in August that Heineken had also extended its contract from 2024-25 to 2026-27. 

In July, Uefa launched a tender process in the logistics category, which was preceded by an invitation to tender for the watchmaker category in May and an April call for expressions of interest from the automotive and gambling sectors.