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Chelsea sponsorships and unhappy fans: An analysis

Manchester United recently signed a partnership deal with Apollo Tyres to be the official partner for the company in the UK and India. This got me wondering. Are Chelsea making the most out of their global presence?

Manchester United have been the most successful English club with regard to Premier League titles, but Chelsea have shown in the last decade that they can be more than a match for United. Three Premier League titles, four FA Cup, two League Cup, one Europa League, and one Champions League in the last decade is a testament to Chelsea’s dominance.

Yet, the club can still learn a thing or two from United. Ahead of the Manchester United vs Chelsea match on Monday, I happened to stumble upon this incredible marketing prowess of United. The club has 33 major sponsors, which is the highest in English football, to its name.

Number of major sponsors for English clubs:

  1. Manchester United – 33
  2. Chelsea – 19
  3. Liverpool – 18
  4. Manchester City – 15
  5. Arsenal – 13
  6. Tottenham – 10

Second place is an incredible achievement, but it seems that Chelsea are not doing enough to get football club sponsor. Arsenal have not won a trophy in the last eight years, and they have also not won the Champions League. City have only recently entered into the elite stage, but they already have 15 sponsors on their books. Liverpool are an enormously successful club with a lot of support in Asia, but they have not won the league title in the last two decades.

“Those possibilities [extending Stamford Bridge or moving to a new stadium] are not open to Chelsea for the foreseeable future because of the restrictions in expanding our stadium and the issues around finding a new site.

“That means we have to be creative and look at our sponsorship architecture and see if we can create new value and new opportunities that keeps us competitive.” – Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay in 2009.

Why is this important?

I had to resort to the Deloitte Football Money League 2013 to have an understanding of the finances of the top English clubs.

Looking at the Deloitte Football Money League 2013, Chelsea have moved into the fifth position as a result of enormous success on the pitch. The 2012 Champions League victory has helped the club generate record turnovers.

It seems that this success has not translated into happiness for the fans; especially for those who go to every home match.

Chelsea Supporters Trust did a survey in May 2013. Here are some excerpts from it:

“The members of the Trust consider the current price of tickets to be a barrier to the involvement and enjoyment of following Chelsea on several different levels.

“Supporters see no discernible long term plan for Chelsea from the current Board.

“The majority of Trust members agree that winning trophies every year is not the sole reason for supporting Chelsea.

“The growing number of overseas supporters have a mixed experience in obtaining tickets to visit Stamford Bridge.”

A large portion of Chelsea’s income comes from match day revenue. It is certainly incredible that Chelsea’s small (in comparison with United, City, and Arsenal) ground is able to generate more or less the same revenue as a 60,000+ seater stadium.

chelseatrueblue.com deloitte-Premier-league-money-table-2013

Ironically, the commercial income generated through sponsorships and merchandise sales is closed amongst the top clubs. At just £70 million per year, you can’t help think that there is an incredible scope for improvement. Chelsea have always been criticised for the high ticket prices and overall match day experience, but it is time that the club started giving something back to the supporters.

Agreed, United fans are always complaining about their club, but it seems that fans are not being burdened in their efforts to become the best club in the world. Further, the survey was done when Rafa Benitez was the manager. The return of José Mourinho may appear to have made the fans happy, but there are issues that the club needs to address.

It is not as if Ron Gourlay cannot find new sponsors to compensate for the ticket revenue loss. There are plenty of markets out there Gourlay, and Manchester United just showed you the way.

5 comments

  1. Chelsea need more sponsores, 19 is too small 33 of manchester United

  2. I agree with u destiny chelsea need more sponsorships we need a staduim of our own n we a gud enough 2 have 1 a big 1 4 that matter.

  3. i think you guy are right.w need more of them to be able.to compete with united…..

  4. I think i agreen with u guys, we really need to improve about dis lssue

  5. They should however be credible sponsors