Europe's leading leagues have broken the Eur500 million barrier for shirt sponsorship for the first time, according to Sport+Markt's latest European Football Jersey Report, reports SportBusiness. The report from the Repucom-owned German sports marketing company shows that the English Premier League has retained its top spot in the rankings with its 20 clubs generating Eur148.7 million in shirt sponsorship revenue in 2012-13.
Sport+Markt said continued growth for the leading clubs and new, improved deals for some less prominent sides were major factors in setting the new record, as was the increasing strength of the British pound against the Euro.
"Without doubt, the global reach of the Barclays Premier League is a major driving force," said Andrew Walsh, president of global enterprise at Sport+Markt.
"Clubs are increasingly looking beyond these shores for lucrative sponsorship deals and even companies for whom the UK is not a primary market are keen to associate themselves with Premier League teams and tap in to that exposure."
The combined value of shirt sponsorship income in Europe's top leagues across England, Germany, Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands recorded a 7% rise from last season, reaching Eur522 million.
There were relatively strong performances recorded in Spain's Primera Division (Eur78.7 million) and Italy's Serie A (Eur82.8 million). Germany's Bundesliga (Eur119.8 million) maintains its position as the second most lucrative league, reflecting the status of shirt sponsorship as a crucial tool in the market, thanks largely to significant audiences of league highlights on domestic free-to-air television.
"The general health of shirt sponsorship is very encouraging for the game across Europe," Walsh added. "This season we've seen record spending take place in Italy, England, Germany, and Spain which, considering the financial conditions across much of Europe, is really remarkable.
"Following a brief dip at the outset of the global financial crisis between 2007 and 2008, incomes have increased consistently and, with football's global TV audience continuing to grow, we can expect this to continue."
Sport+Markt stated that FC Barcelona's partnership with Qatar Foundation is currently the most lucrative shirt sponsorship in Europe's major leagues at a value of Eur30 million per season, with Manchester United (Aon/Eur25 million), Liverpool (Standard Chartered/Eur25 million), Real Madrid (Bwin/Eur23 million) and Bayern München (Deutsche Telekom/Eur23 million) making up the top five.
Across the six leagues included in the report, the banking/financial services/insurance sector was both the most active source of sponsors.
However, significant growth has also come from the automobile sector - Jeep's deal with Juventus and Hyundai's partnership with Olympique Lyonnais being the most notable contracts - which more than doubled on the previous season. That growth looks set to continue over the next 24 months with the impending arrival of General Motors as shirt sponsor of Manchester United in 2014.