Major League Soccer Clubs Are Finding Increased Activation Opportunities By Separating Kit and Training Gear Sponsorships
Began in 2014 to present.
Number of Clubs With This Type of Sponsorship
As of 2018, 5 of MLS’s 23 clubs have separate kit and training gear sponsors.
Difference From Kit Sponsorship
Kit (jersey) sponsorship has the brand name on the front of the game shirt, while a training kit sponsorship appears on the warm up kit and non-game-day training apparel. Each type of sponsorship rights that a club can sell is referred to as an “asset.” A club will want to leverage all available assets.
Teams are expected to be able to sell this sponsorship in the high six-figure to low seven-figure of revenue annually.
First Club To Sign Training Gear Sponsorship
Portland Timbers – Contracted with local bank Simple in December, 2014. New Training Kit deal with Portland-based contact lens subscription service Sightbox signed in 2018. (See article Training Gear Sponsorships Working Out for MLS Clubs)
Prerequisites To Entering A Training Gear Sponsorship
Unbundling of Assets: It will be necessary to negotiate and executed a modification of any existing contracts with the kit (jersey) sponsor in order to allow for the training kit sponsorship to take effect. In essence the kit sponsor agreement must “carve out” the training gear sponsorship from the kit sponsor agreement.
Financial Value of Training Gear Sponsorship
In most cases, worth less than the game kit (jersey) sponsorship. There is rule that dictates a training gear sponsorship must be less than kit sponsorship.
Importance increases for those clubs who do not have stadium naming rights partner.
Rationale For Separate Training Gear Sponsorship
Having separate sponsorships creates greater opportunities for the club by increasing the “family” of partners, increases activations. The advantages extend beyond simply increased revenue. Unbundling the assets can produce more revenue than having a unilateral sponsor.
Attractiveness To Sponsor
A sponsor receives daily exposure at training, the pregame and interviews that are done for national television. The visibility component is a prime motivation. This type of sponsorship allows visibility but at a lower cost than kit sponsorship.
In the next few years the bulk of MLS clubs will have a partner in the training kit category.
What They’re Saying
Mike Golub, Portland Timbers President of Business, on the value of having a training gear sponsor: “It is material, and there is a high level of value with the amount of exposure you’re able to get in practice every day.”
Houston Dynamo Chief Revenue Officer Steven Powell: “The training kit sponsorship is a high-profile asset that has a really impactful brand integration and brand association. With the right partner who builds a platform around the assets, I don’t think it dilutes the value of a jersey or naming-rights partner.”
Marc De Grandpre, General Manager, New York Red Bulls: “There’s tremendous value for all the clubs here, both in terms of activation and significant dollars where the sum of the parts can be greater if the club manages it properly,”
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