As one of the biggest teams in Europe, Manchester City is the ideal candidate for businesses looking to enter the football sponsorship market. Having sponsorship affiliations with a team like Manchester City means businesses automatically get access to City’s audience base. This reality can lead to many benefits that will trickle down to whatever company manages to land a partnership with the Blues. Over the years, Manchester City has had many different sponsors, but only a handful still stand out. That includes Etihad Airways, Puma, and EA Sports.
For nearly 15 years, Manchester City has been connected to Etihad Airways, the second-largest airline in the United Arab Emirates. In 2009, Etihad Airways became City’s kit sponsor, and this partnership strengthened in 2011 when the flag carrier acquired the naming rights to the club’s stadium and surrounding grounds. For these reasons, Etihad Airways is one of Manchester City’s most significant sponsors from the club’s modern era.
In the summer of 2019, it was confirmed that City had ended its six-year association with Nike and had instead entered into a 10-year kit deal with German athletic and footwear company Puma. The City-Puma deal is reportedly worth around £650 million over ten years. As such, Puma is another important sponsor in Manchester City’s commercial history since this deal marked the end of the club’s long-standing partnership with Nike.
EA Sports and Future Potential Sponsors
Lastly, we have EA Sports. EA Sports is the video gaming company behind the popular football simulation game FIFA, and the company has been the Official Gaming Partner of Manchester City since 2019. Through this partnership, EA Sports gets to create exclusive content for City’s social media channels and holds licensing rights for Manchester City. That means EA Sports can feature City’s players, kits, and stadium in FIFA. This partnership is interesting since EA Sports has ended its partnership with FIFA, which means EA Sports will no longer be releasing the official gaming franchise of FIFA and instead will be releasing their own. This could cause implications for City’s collaboration with the company.
While sports sponsorships have predominantly been conducted by retail brands, airlines, and video gaming companies, there are growth opportunities for other industries to enter this market in the United Kingdom. For example, the online gambling business in the UK is lucrative and have already started to get involved in this area over the last decade. Online mobile casinos allow UK residents to play hundreds of world-class games, access mobile casino promotions, and deposit and withdraw through their smart devices using different payment services. The online gambling industry is projected to reach a value of more than $560 billion by 2025, and these casino providers could make suitable future sponsors for City due to their increasing popularity.
The same applies to cryptocurrency exchanges, which have already moved into the football sponsorship market. For example, cryptocurrency exchange OKX became Manchester City’s official training kit sponsor for the 2022/23 season.
A Football Marketing Juggernaut
Manchester City is one of the biggest clubs in the world, making them highly attractive to potential sponsors. Over the years, the club has entered into various partnerships, but only a select standout for different reasons. While the club's future is unclear, we know it will always be commercially popular due to its previous successes.