Trends & Features

Fight club

Since the 2008/09 season, the so called Big Four clubs’ (Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool) dominance of the Premier League has been threatened by the ambitions of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

Both clubs made their presence felt during the 2011/12 season – Manchester City won the title with a dramatic last minute goal, while Tottenham finished fourth, only missing out on qualification to the Champions League because unfancied Chelsea won the competition.

While Manchester United won the 2012/13 Premier League title with four games of the season remaining, managerial changes at United, Manchester City and Chelsea could result in a closer race for the trophy in 2013/14.

The Premier League attracts fans across the globe from Asia to the United States – a recent TV rights agreement won by the NBCUniversal channel will allow American fans of the competition to watch every match from next season. This agreement extends TV coverage across the globe even further, increasing Premier League clubs’ revenues as well as sponsors’ exposure.

On pitch performances are very much linked to clubs’ revenues and what is going on off the field. With brands like Under Armour, which replaced Puma as kit supplier to Tottenham, and Warrior appearing on the English football scene last season, clubs no longer restricted to choose between Nike, adidas, Puma or Umbro can now bring more power to the negotiating table.

Liverpool agreed a huge shirt sponsorship deal when, after ending its relationship with adidas, it inked a £150 million, six year agreement with New Balance subsidiary Warrior Sports in June 2012.

Nike and adidas dominate the football replica sector in England, but to a much lesser extent than they do in the football boot market. 11 different kit manufacturers supplied the 20 Premier League clubs last season and £300 million worth of replica football kit was sold in 2012 throughout GB, according to NPD consumer data, which represents nearly twice the market size of France, Germany, Italy and Spain combined.

The football market is, however, not all about replica sales, as in GB football boots accounted for £180 million worth of sales in 2012. On the retail side, the distribution network remains largely in the hands of official club stores and multiple retailers, but the closure of JJB, which had an 18 per cent market share in 2012, means opportunities abound for the remaining retail brands to increase sales.

Sports Direct is probably going to benefit the most from JJB’s collapse and strengthen its position as the leader in the sector, but it will be interesting to see how much additional market share it will take or whether a new name can make any significant impact on the market.

The NPD Group monitors the sales of sports footwear and apparel in many countries around the world. For more information contact the NPD Group sports team on 01932 355580.

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