October 18 – Adidas vs Nike or Man Utd vs Chelsea. The apparent ease with which Adidas let Nike takeover at Chelsea in a new £60 million per year, 15-year deal, suggests an even greater concentration by the sportswear sponsors on the mega club brands.
While Chelsea is certainly a big club brand, the scale of the difference between their deal (sum and term) and Manchester United’s, put them very much into a second, ‘non-galactico’ tier of clubs.
Adidas were paying £30 million a year for their Chelsea deal which had a year to run. Nike will double that to £60 million, but Manchester United are still earning £75 million a year from a 10-year Adidas deal signed in 2014.
If there is any suspicion that Adidas had just lost its appetite for big money kit deals then think again. Adidas pays Real Madrid £106 million a year. Nike of course have Barcelona on a similar super-sized deal.
£900 million over 15 years for Chelsea is nevertheless a huge commitment for the US brand and the West London club will almost certainly return to seriously challenging for major English and European honours in the next couple of seasons as new manager Antonio Conte is greenlighted to improve his aging squad.
The club also has the advantage of an underpinning kit supplier deal as it goes through the major business decisions of rebuilding and increasing the capacity of its Stamford Bridge stadium over the next 4/5 years. At the end of that process Nike will still be in place.
Chelsea paid £40 million to Adidas to exit their contract a year early. With all the other decisions the club needs to make as it evolves on and off the pitch, this looks like good business. It nails down a key sponsor deal for the journey.
“This is an incredibly exciting and important deal for the club,” said Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia. “Like Chelsea, Nike is known around the world for its excellence and innovation and we look forward to working together in what is sure to be a successful partnership. We believe Nike will be able to support our growth into new markets as well as helping us maintain our place among the world’s elite football clubs.”
The sponsorship was described in a club statement as the largest commercial deal in the club’s history. There was no indication if the deal is capped at the £60 million per year level or whether there are performance related bonuses on top.
Trevor Edwards, president of the Nike brand, said: “Chelsea is a world-class club with a rich tradition and passionate fans across the globe. The partnership with Chelsea reinforces our leadership position in football. We are excited to help grow the club’s global reach, serving players and supporters with Nike innovation and design.”
What both Granovskaia and Edwards have emphasised is that this deal is intended to push both brands globally and not just in the UK market. Chelsea has generally been slower into international markets in terms of sponsor deals and outreach than it’s the Nike deal could signify that a change in the club’s commercial focus is starting to be engineered more aggressively.
Beginning with the 2017/18 season, Nike will produce kit for the first team, Academy and Ladies teams, as well as a full range of clothing.
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