Liverpool and FSG Anfield plan asks question about future of football sponsorship trend
Liverpool chief executive Andy Hughes recently spoke to Liverpool’s ECHO on a range of topics related to the club’s financial health.
One of the topics covered during the interview was the refurbishment of the Anfield Road stand, which will bring the official capacity at Anfield to over 60,000, and whether there have been negotiations or progress on rights of denomination.
“There is no real update at the moment [on the naming rights]”Hughes said.” But there are a lot of different things we can do around sponsorship and in terms of specific shows.
“If you look at what we’ve been doing in the main stand, then that’s the kind of thing we’re looking at now, but nothing specific just yet.”
The trend for stadium naming rights in football appears to be on the decline.
The concept originated in the United States in the 1950s, with a plethora of baseball and NFL stadiums all of which were renamed over the following decades.
But the idea didn’t really catch on in football until the 2000s, when an influx of international owners flooded European and English football.
The Arsenal stadium which replaced Highbury has been known as Emirates Stadium since its inception in 2006; Bayern Munich’s stadium has been known as the Allianz Arena since 2005, when the Allianz, Bayern and 1860 Munich reached a 30-year deal; Juventus’ new stadium was known as J Stadium for several years after it first opened in 2011, but Allianz also bought its naming rights in the summer of 2017, and it is now officially known as Allianz. Stadium.
There are various examples of in-game branding around the world. But are they becoming a thing of the past?
Tottenham have been looking for a naming rights sponsor for their new stadium since it opened two years ago. However, so far chairman Daniel Levy has been unable to strike a deal with a blue chip company for the kind of numbers he is looking for (around £ 25million per season).
Barcelona and Real Madrid have been seeking naming rights for the Santiago Bernabéu and Camp Nou for years as both are in the process of renovating their stadiums, but no deal has ever been reached. Atletico Madrid are the only major Spain team to have reached a naming rights deal, with Chinese IT company Wanda at £ 8.4million per season.
The same is true in Italy, with Juve being the only major team with a deal in place. In the Premier League, Man City join Arsenal as the only team with existing deals.
The Bundesliga is the outlier, with over 80% of the league’s stadiums sponsored by companies. This is undoubtedly a consequence of the 50 + 1 rule which prevents German teams from receiving outside investments.
The effects of the pandemic, with fans not being allowed to congregate inside stadiums for 18 months, meant companies weren’t really going to get their money’s worth by agreeing to deals with football clubs for naming rights.
Given the historical and romantic value of the Anfield name, it is highly unlikely that the club will ever cede the stadium’s naming rights to a company. Maybe a booth could be renamed in the future, but as Hughes pointed out, there is no progress on that front at the moment, and it’s not the easiest time to try to do something about this front.