Sports Ticker #104: European sponsorship record growth, Germany's Adidas to Nike swap and Formula E shifts gears – a speed read of commercial updates from the sports world

Published on 28 March 2024

In a fortnight which saw Pete Distad named as CEO of the new Disney-Fox-Warner Bros sports streaming venture, Nottingham Forest losing four points for breaching Premier League profit and sustainability rules, and the announcement of a new fan engagement app for Swedish esports organisation Ninjas in Pyjamas, we bring you updates on German football's Adidas-Nike kit supplier swap, steps forward on the new structure for women's cricket and a bizarre bee blitz on Carlos Alcaraz.

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Europe's sports sponsorship market "scores" record €21.98 billion valuation

The European sports sponsorship market hit a record value of €21.98 billion in 2023, according to research from the European Sponsorship Association and Nielsen Sports. This exceeded the pre-pandemic level of €20.26 billion in 2019. Samantha Lamberti, Managing Director International, Nielsen Sports, commented: “The year 2023 was a remarkable one for the sponsorship industry, as it both witnessed a full recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a significant growth in spending." Sophie Morris, ESA Chair, added that the results were "what we were all hoping for". Multiple factors have contributed to this success, such as sponsorships related to ESG, cause and purpose, alongside long-term rights deals in the arts and culture sector. Interestingly, the Sponsorship Market Overview found that Iceland and Poland were the year’s fastest growers (19%). Overall, the total value of Europe’s sponsorship market increased by 6.2% over the past year from €29.05 billion to €30.86 billion.

A bright idea for Man City and its training facility

Manchester City hopes its City Football Academy will be one of football's top producers of renewable energy worldwide (if they can net the planning permission). This shot at carbon neutrality by 2030 will be achieved by installing over 10,000 solar panels and will not only offset City Football Academy's use, but also supply the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City Women's Joie Stadium will house 3,000 of the panels. Fans may be able to spot the newly installed panels over footpaths and on pitch-side areas of City Football Academy. The panels will be managed by Clearvolt (a Manchester-based renewables developer), and represent a development of the club's sustainability practices, which include the removal of single-use plastic on matchdays and rainwater reuse. The City Football Academy site has also been commended by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for its wildlife-friendly impact.

Essex Cricket pitches to get professional

Essex Cricket has announced its ambition to run one of eight professional women's teams in the new structure for women's cricket in England and Wales from 2025. The county, which has a strong history of producing female cricketers, hopes to inspire the next generation of players and fans by offering a pathway to the highest level of the game. The England and Wales Cricket Board is investing up to £5 million per year into the women's game and will select the eight teams by mid-April. They will compete in 50-over and T20 competitions, with lower tiers for other counties. Essex will also host England Women's one-day match against Pakistan at Chelmsford on 29 May, as part of a busy international schedule for the national team.

Adios Adidas

Germany's national football team are switching shirts. After a 70-year partnership with Adidas, the German Football Association (DFB) has signed a new deal with Nike, starting in 2027. This marks the end of an era that saw Germany lift four Men's World Cups and numerous other trophies while sporting the immediately recognisable stripes. While Adidas will still produce Germany's kit for Euro 2024, Nike takes the reins for future tournaments, likely starting with the 2027 Women's World Cup. The switch hinges on both financial reasons and Nike's commitment to supporting German football at all levels, including grassroots and the development of women's football. Despite the change, the DFB remains committed to a successful partnership with Adidas until the handover in 2027, acknowledging their long-standing contribution to German football.

Power On: Electric motorsport racing receives partnership boosts

The world of electric motorsport racing has seen some new and exciting investment over the past weeks. Extreme E, the electric off-road SUV championship, has extended its partnership with carbon project developer and sustainability solutions company Allcot, with whom they have been partnered since the series' inception. As the series' new official environmental contribution partner, Allcot will address carbon emissions in Extreme E, and hopes to inspire change across motorsports and beyond. The plan is to start with a collaboration aimed at offsetting emissions from Extreme E's floating headquarters, the St Helena (a former Royal Mail cargo-passenger vessel). Separately, Formula E has signed a new multi-year technology partnership with Google Cloud. This partnership will involve collaboration on data analytics to create tailored marketing campaigns, and generative AI to explore new technologies. 

Extra time...

......and finally, it wasn't just the spectators who were abuzz with excitement at the quarter-final showdown between Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev at the Indian Wells tennis tournament in California. The pair had been playing for just 19 minutes when a swarm of bees descended from on high, halting play. Fortunately, the tournament's dedicated beekeeper, dual-armed with vacuum and spray bottle, was on hand to dispatch the fuzzy foes. The initial response dealt with collections of bees on a camera and the scoreboard, and appeared to debug the court entirely. Unfortunately, it wasn't to bee, and Alcaraz was stung on the forehead soon after. The beekeeper was resummoned to the fray (to jubilant applause) to hoover and spray through the remaining pests, enabling play to continue. The match had been paused for nearly two hours. Despite reporting "I'm a little bit afraid", Alcaraz nevertheless managed a decisive 6-3 6-1 victory over Zverev.

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