Sunday, 14 September 2008

WBA v West Ham - the first unsponsored Premiership match?

West Brom v West Ham was interesting yesterday, because as far as I am aware it is the first premiership match that featured two unsponsored teams? (West Brom do not have a shirt deal for this season and West Ham's sponsor XL holidays has been blanked out after the company collapsed this week.)

Unsponsored shirts - Sponsorless West Brom, and West Ham shirts with blanked out XL logo
(image from official West Brom site)

- With Northern Rock still sponsoring Newcastle United and the credit crunch particularly affecting sponsorship, are we heading for a time where non-sponsored shirts become more commonplace?

- An alternative is using shirts logos to support charity. Barcelona (Unicef) and Aston Villa (Acorns) use their shirts to promoting charitable organisations. Will philanthropic use of shirt space increase?

- The other option could be to utilise technology to approach shirt sponsorship in a different way. I wrote about Insqribe's new QR code functionality yesterday and think this could work well for sponsorship if QR codes take off. The shirt would display the same QR code barcode image every week, but each day / week / month the content that the QR code points to could be changed. This would allow a single shirt logo to point to a number of different destinations over the course of a season (the shirt design stays consistent, but what it points to changes.) QR codes clearly need to reach critical mass first, but this could be an interesting development area.

An unofficial mock-up (created by me) of how Neil Clement's West Brom shirt could carry a QR code (in this case pointing to this site)

In coming seasons football sponsorship deals could get harder to secure for everyone except the largest clubs - it will be interesting to see how quickly West Ham replace their previous XL Holidays deal (and how quickly they remove XL from their club website.)

Related article:
The Independent analysed the Premiership sponsorship deals here

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