United DHL contract to trigger copycat deals

MANCHESTER UNITED’S groundbreaking £40m training kit sponsorship with logistics company DHL will spark a stampede among their rivals to secure copycat deals, experts predicted last night.

But they warned most will struggle to rake in anything like the £10m a season attracted by United, who can boast truly global reach and have developed the “blueprint” for maximising commercial revenue.

And that is likely to see the Old Trafford outfit, and a handful of European giants such as Barcelona and Real Madrid, strengthen their position as the game’s international superpowers. United’s deal with DHL (as seen on David de Gea, right) is thought to be the first of its kind in the Premier League, and leading figures in the sponsorship industry told City A.M. they expect it to prompt other teams to seek similar tie-ups.

“Other clubs will follow – it’s a logical thing. Training kit is often seen in warm-ups and photos from training grounds, so it does get quite a bit of exposure,” said John Taylor, chairman of agency Sports Impact.

However, all but a handful of rivals could find it difficult to attract large sums as they cannot match United’s worldwide appeal and presence, according to Dominic Curran, deputy managing director of Synergy.

“They’re a global juggernaut. That’s the truth of it and that’s what United offer. I think many other teams would struggle to do that,” he said. “I’m sure there’s quite a lot of other teams in the Premier League today looking at it but I don’t think there are many that could do it to that level.”

United have led the way in maximising commercial revenues in the top division, securing a host of territory-specific deals with telecommunications companies, beer brands and even tyre-makers. “Man United is almost a blueprint for other clubs in the Premier League and even the Championship,” said Taylor, whose company set up npower’s Test sponsorship and have also worked with insurers AXA and beer Amstel.

Curran, whose company manage the RBS Group’s global account and Coca-Cola’s British football activity, added: “When you talk about Man United and one or two others in the Premier League you’re talking about global teams. Nowadays you have to compare them to the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter, AC Milan, Bayern Munich.”

The ability of United, and the rest of the Continent’s elite, to tap new commercial revenue streams seems likely only to cement their position at the top and increase the gap between European superclubs and the rest.

“The more successful you are, the more TV and sponsorship income you get, the more fans you attract globally, the more money you produce to buy new players and so it goes on,” said Taylor. “If you are at the bottom of the Premier League you’d call it a vicious circle, if you are at the top you’d call it a virtuous circle.” There is hope for those lower down the food chain, however, as more successful clubs could mean yet-bigger broadcast contracts, whose revenue is distributed among clubs.

“There is some trickle down effect,” said Curran.

“The whole cake is getting better, albeit the bigger slices are getting proportionately larger.”

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