The market for TV rights for the broadcast of games globally, the growth of investments in football in western and eastern markets, the transfer of players and coaches from West to East (and vice versa) and the spread of football academies worldwide are just some of the aspects of the phenomenon of globalization which football currently represents.
Among these aspects a key role is played by the market for the sponsors of club kit and of players’ shirts, a very lively market from which we can extrapolate some interesting points for discussion.
Thanks to the various studies and findings in this area we have been able to see that it is an ever increasing market: among the clubs taken into consideration, in recent years there has always been growth in global sales, never a fall. Clubs with a great history such as Manchester United, clubs which continue to record victories such as Barcelona and Real Madrid, and clubs which, although first-time winners, manage to make a mark on the rankings for the best-selling shirts (this is the case of Leicester City which, thanks to its astonishing victory in the Premier League in the 2015/2016 season, reached 12th place in the ranking last July) and have exploited this market to their own advantage.
The more you win, the more prestige you gain, the more prestige you gain, the more you can sell worldwide, and the more you sell, the more you grow as a club and as a global brand. And when the sales exceed 3 million items, as in the case of Barcelona, the kit sponsors are ready to offer even better contracts. Bayern Munich know that fact very well given that, despite only receiving 51 million euro last year from the Bundes League for TV rights (as well as the sum due for rights connected to their involvement – which can never be guaranteed – in the Champions League), they are about to receive 90 million euro a year for 10 years starting from Adidas owing to the expansion of their brand, income which is certain and not linked to any results on the pitch for all 10 years of the contract.
It’s no coincidence that the most attractive contracts are to found in the English, Spanish and German championships which have the most popular clubs thanks to their high profile in European club competitions, teams such as Real, Barcelona, Bayern, Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United. Just as it is no coincidence that in the list of top 10 earners from shirt sales among the Italians Juventus stands out, the cream of the Italian game at the moment, and AC Milan which, despite a quiet period at the moment nonetheless has a history of European and intercontinental success, a fact which makes it perhaps the best-known and most followed Italian team globally.
Having said that, ensuring that Italy rejoins this lively and continually changing market, does not seem such a hard task: it would be sufficient to start winning again in Europe to return to promoting its image also on foreign markets with all the consequences that flow from that. And winning, if we really think about it, is not so hard for us. Above all if the new foreign owners seriously plan to return to being competitive and to bringing in the true stars.