UAE biggest investor in European football shirt sponsorship as spending rises

When it comes to football shirt sponsorship, the UAE has topped the six biggest European leagues for the second season running.

Arabian Gulf airlines spent Dh670 million, an increase of 9 per cent on last year, emblazoning their names across some of the continent’s biggest teams.

AC Milan, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are all sponsored by Emirates, and Manchester City by Etihad Airways. Emirates is also the sponsor of England’s FA Cup competition.

“Football is still the cheapest advertising there is if you want visibility,” said Boutros Boutros, the divisional senior vice president for corporate communications and marketing at Emirates.

He said there was no scientific way of working out the return on investment, as it was an emotional response instead of a quantitative one.

“We spent US$15 million on the advertising for our Jennifer Aniston campaign and it was like a pea in the ocean. With Real Madrid we have 700 million people who love their club and the players. With Arsenal we have 500 million. We had no renewals last season and none this coming season, so we invested at a good time, I think.”

Abu Dhabi bought Manchester City in 2008 and signed a 10-year sponsorship deal with Etihad airways in 2009.

The Qatar Foundation in 2011 paid €150m (Dh616.7m) for a five-year deal to become the first ever sponsor of the Barcelona shirt and the same year it bought Paris Saint-Germain

Revenue from shirt sponsorship in Europe’s top leagues has risen 13 per cent to Dh3.4 billion this season, powered by a 35 per cent increase in England’s Premier League.

The Repucom European Football Jersey Report covered shirt sponsorship deals in the Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga, Spain’s La Liga, Ligue 1 in France, Italy’s Serie A and the Dutch championship.

The biggest rise was in the Premier League, with shirt sponsorship revenue reaching €330m, almost 40 per cent of the total for Europe’s top six leagues.

“Football dominates the leagues of sports sponsorship,” said Jon Long, managing director of the sports marketing consultancy Repucom Middle East.” The sponsorship is predominantly driven by Europe, but the money available for the top clubs places it top of global sports marketing.”

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