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Premier League Sleeve Sponsorship and Multi-Sponsor Kit Branding

Friday 24th March 2017

Following Manchester City announcing the Premier League’s first Official Sleeve Partnership (with Nexen Tire) since the Premier League introduced new rules for the 2017/18 season, here are  Centrefield’s thoughts on the introduction of sleeve sponsorship rights in the Premier League, and multi-sponsor kit branding in general:

#1. Value – rights holders will need to take a holistic view, considering aggregate revenues generated across all kit branding assets, taking into account the potential impact of each deal on the others. Whilst appointing a sleeve partner may well result in a short term boost to some Premier League Clubs’ sponsorship coffers, will the increase sustain itself over the longer term or will the values of and appetite for shirt sponsorship re-calibrate to take into account this multi-sponsor branding?

#2. Exclusivity – existing arrangements will be crucial in terms of the rights which may (or may not) be granted to a potential sleeve sponsor. The recent rule change also highlights the importance of rights holders’ making informed decisions in their contractual arrangements in terms of their ability to exploit other sponsorship assets and inventory – whether existing, or ones which may become available in the future.

#3. Related Arrangements – the position of a sleeve sponsor within a Club’s sponsorship hierarchy will be a very relevant issue for both the Club (and its other partners) and sponsor. In practical terms, the application of an additional brand to kit will be dictated by the rights holder’s technical partner / kit supply arrangements, particularly in relation to the relevant costs and time frames and the position around replicas.

#4. Scope of Rights – rights holders and sponsors will need to consider, both from a regulatory and commercial perspective, if and how inventory is to be ‘carved up’. Are rights being granted on all kits, or is there a differentiation, perhaps based on competitions or home/away/third kits? Do rights extend to training kit as well? Does the deal capture all rights holder teams?

#5. Sponsorship – all of the usual considerations for sports sponsorship deals will apply, including any requirements of applicable laws in the relevant product/service sectors. There will also be specific considerations to take into account in the event that inventory is sold on a collective basis (for example, an agency seeking to sell sleeve rights on behalf of a number of Clubs).

If you would like any more information on any of the points raised above or any advice in connection with sponsorship matters, please contact David Bentham (Partner) or Oliver Sadler (Associate), or call 0161 672 5450.

Please note the information contained in this briefing is intended as a general review of the subject featured and is not intended as specific legal advice.

Centrefield LLP – About Us

We are a specialist Sport and Media law firm based in Manchester. Our team has over 15 years’ experience advising exclusively in the sport and media sector. We have extensive experience and expertise acting for rights holders and sponsors in sponsorship matters.

Our work also spans a wide range of other commercial matters, including advising on image rights, licensing/merchandising, product/service supply, broadcasting, digital and social media, funding arrangements, athlete and staff contracts / transfers and all aspects of venue / event management and exploitation. We also advise on governance, disciplinary and regulatory issues, integrity, immigration matters and dispute resolution. Find out more about what we do.