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Sponsorship deals in sport – how lucrative can they be?

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Sport has become more than just the game now, clubs are followed around the world, athletes are worshipped and are role-models to young people, the game itself is being sold to spectators more than ever.

Marketing the game has become so vital to governing bodies and clubs themselves to ensure that the fans continue to flock to watch, buy products to continue to fund the sports and teams they love.

Ensuring that your sport is reaching as many new fans as possible is vital in the continual growth of a sport. There is huge competition for the growth of a fanbase between different sports, especially amongst sports across the United States like NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL as well as Tennis and Golf.

The NFL have created excellent links with television and broadcasting companies who will work with the league to promote the product as well as increase their customer and fan bases. In 2021 the NFL signed off on a new domestic deal worth more than $110 billion over 11 years. 

This agreement ensures the NFL continues to be marketed on the biggest broadcasting and television channels and reach more and more people every year to continue to draw in more fans each season.

Sport’s governing bodies are responsible for the continual growth of their sport, but this also flows down to clubs and athletes themselves. 

Clubs will offer sponsorship opportunities to bring in more revenue to help with the continued running of their team. Manchester United in the Premier League showed their brand remains healthy despite under-par performances on the pitch with a huge deal with technology company TeamViewer. TeamViewer will reportedly pay around £55 million per year to have their name placed on the shirt of the English side.

Sponsorship deals are not just revenue for clubs and leagues, they are also important ways for athletes themselves to boost their earnings. 

Rory McIlroy is one of golf’s highest earners and will go into this year’s Masters at Augusta knowing he will need to capture his finest form to be challenging at the top once again. In the 2022 Masters betting he’s currently the second favorite, ensuring his sponsors will get their money’s worth based on how much airtime he’ll be getting. The Norther Irishman recently reported a new sponsor this year, making him a brand ambassador for financial management company Workday.  

Workday is a familiar name in golf and McIlroy has aligned himself with other golfers like Phil Mickelson as a brand ambassador. Alongside this, his TaylorMade deal signed in 2017 is said to earn him around $10 million per year till 2027 while also being sponsored by Nike, NBC, Omega and Optum.  

Steph Curry, one of the greatest basketball players currently playing is also one of the highest paid athletes in the world. His contract with Golden State Warriors is huge though his sponsorship and endorsements bring in around £42 million per year with one of the largest shoe contracts of all time. His deal with Under Armour is the fourth highest global sports deal and his reputation in the game as well as off the court is a big reason Under Armour were keen to associate themselves with the star.

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world with an Instagram following of over 400 million. He has a unique global appeal that stars of other sports find impossible to compete with. 

The Portuguese forward has a lifetime deal with Nike which is set to earn him over $1 billion, this is alongside his deals with Herbalife and EA Sports as well as a number of other companies. 

He is a global superstar who not only reaches soccer fans but people from all walks of life with his fitness and charitable work outside of his reputation in the game.

Roger Federer is another who has reached the top of his game, though the money he earns as an athlete does not compare with the huge income through endorsements. 

For decades, Federer has been hugely invested in by Nike, who have offered him multiple deals throughout his career though has since parted ways with the sports company. Uniqlo offered him a deal for 10 years which almost doubles the 20-year association he had with Nike at around $300 million. 

These deals ensure that athletes can continue to build their income in the short careers that are available to them. With most sports stars retiring before they reach 40, there is a need to ensure you are protecting your family and yourself for the future.

For the sponsorship companies they will always look to build their brand and business by linking up with the biggest and most respected stars in sports and this will continue to benefit both parties financially as they continue to perform.

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