The figure of the sponsor tends to be seen as a platonic love. Someone who will come and rescue us at some point.
Like getting married, it doesn’t happen overnight. You first have to ask the for number, then go on a first date and so on, until proposing marriage is inevitable. The same approach should be adopted when seeking a sponsor, giving before asking. Inviting them to a game, knowing them, a formal meeting, a small partnership until their ROI is so clear that they only think about investing more.
Among women’s football clubs, sponsorship is commonly the main source for income. According to The Guardian, sponsorship accounts for the 70% of Manchester City’s total revenue, 80% for Liverpool’s and 77% for Birmingham’s; being match-day revenue a minor source accounting for 9%, 1% and 5% respectively. A weak fan experience for an unengaged audience. Likewise, FC Barcelona signed Stanley as a the main sponsor, perceiving around 3.5M€ per season. In 2017, Liverpool became the first club to have an independent shirt sponsor when Avon joined in a three-year partnership. In Spain, Iberdrola announced it will continue as main and title sponsor for the Liga Iberdrola, a deal valued at 4M€ including other women’s sports and extended until 2021, according to Palco23.
New and profitable sponsorship deals are great news, but relying on one source of income is too risky. Match-day and, eventually, media and especially TV rights, should play a greater role. If we focus on these three main areas, according to Esteve Calzada, we could classify potential club revenue sources into:
- B2C: Ticketing, Memberships, Product Licensing, Food & Beverages
- B2B: Concessions, Advertising, VIP Hospitality and Corporate Events
- B2C: Product Licensing
- B2B: Sponsorship, Merchandising Licensing, Advertising, Image Rights, Games
- B2C: Website, Social Media, TV Channel, Editorial
- B2B: TV Rights, Advertising, Sport Prizes, Content
Endless opportunities for growing business for women’s football clubs, and surely more to come in the following years, especially in the digital area. Regarding fan experience, here you can find 17 ideas to improve attendance.
As important as developing these revenue sources will be ensuring the capacity to sustain, satisfy and provide more value to the different stakeholders overtime. Short-term sponsorship is not useful if we can’t compromise to deliver value.
Diversification and strategy, we are on our way.