The Barclays Premier League will soon become known as simply the Premier League. Though that’s already how most soccer fans refer to England’s top flight, the news here is that the Premier League is moving away from title sponsorship beginning in 2016-17. Once Barclays’ current deal with the Premier League expires next year, the league will opt for a “cleaner” look by remaining sponsor free.
This news, as reported by the Daily Mail, comes as a surprise considering the infiltration of sponsors throughout soccer. Just about everything in soccer – including the uniforms – has a giant logo of a sponsor. As American leagues ponder the use of logos on jerseys (the NHL will test this out during the World Cup of Hockey) following the path blazed by soccer, the Premier League is looking to the leagues in the United States in an effort to move to a “clean” branding strategy.
The 2016-17 season will be the first since 2004 in which Barclays is not involved. Though the league as a whole is turning away from what should be a massive payday, they’re still allowing teams to pick up sponsors as they see fit. As tickets continue to be a hot commodity in the Premier League, teams are able to capitalize on all of the attention through lucrative sponsorship deals.
Soccer is often criticized for it’s connection to advertising and sponsorship. The biggest teams change their jerseys every year in an effort to push more merchandise. While uniform changes occur in American leagues, the biggest soccer clubs – like a Real Madrid – make big changes such as color annually. Real Madrid will always wear white at home, but their stripes (Adidas stripes, we might add) change color each year. Add in the changing away and alternate uniforms and you have a recipe for money.
Will this cleaner strategy become a new trend in the Premier League? Probably not considering the money involved (Manchester United reportedly receives $210 million in jersey sponsorship alone each year), but it’s nice to see the league as a whole move towards a cleaner image. Ironically, American teams may be moving away from the cleaner brand image the Premier League is attempting to emulate. Rarely will sports fans ask a U.S. sports league to follow the lead of global soccer, but every fan can agree a sponsor shouldn’t be connected to a league or a trophy.