I thought about writing this article a few months ago as I was hoping the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) would be finalized by now. Since this is not the case, I want to present an alternative revenue stream which could go some way in bridging the gap between players and owners.
With sponsorship being a key driver behind many events, stadiums and even players involved in the NFL, it is hard to believe that the league has not followed in the footsteps of many leagues around the world and introduced sponsorship on jerseys. This added revenue is the driving force keeping many teams afloat in leagues such as the English Premier League and the Australian Football League.
With Nike having the apparel sponsorship locked up for an estimated $220 million a year, it still leaves room for a main sponsor which could be placed either below or above the number on the front of the jersey. There is also ample room on the back, below the number, leaving a spot for a second sponsor or a repeat logo of the front sponsor.
So just how much would money would putting a logo on an NFL jersey bring in for the teams? Using current sponsorship deals as yardsticks, we can work out a possible figure.
Football powerhouses Barcelona and Manchester United each have deals which are believed to be in the region of $30-40 million per year. Though NFL is a massive sport worldwide, it doesn’t have the global pull of fans as much as these clubs do, especially in regards to TV audience and jersey sales. On the second tier, which includes teams such as Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, brands pay around $12-15 million for the main logo spot on front of their respective jerseys.
Taking a look at the MLS, shirt sponsorship varies from between $1 and $3 million, with that number expected to rise as the competition garners more support.
So looking at the data presented, it is possible that big market teams such as the NY Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears could reach a figure somewhere in the $15-20 million range with smaller market teams such as the St. Louis Rams reaching around $6-10 million. The disparity between the teams would be a slight concern, however there would be ways in which these teams could reach a similar figure. If the sponsorship was based on bonuses such as TV audience figures, making the playoffs and making an appearance in the Super Bowl, smaller teams would be able to bridge the gap through performance.
There would be no shortage of sponsors wanting to jump on board either, with the NFL breaking TV audience records all the time. Not to mention there is no stopping other leagues such as the NBA and NHL adopting this too.
I can’t quite fathom how this has not already been introduced, especially at a time when there is a shortfall between player and owner demands. Although a small figure in relative terms, it would certainly bring each side much closer together, and I’m sure fans wouldn’t have a problem with a company logo on their team’s jersey if it meant they could actually watch football.