The Premier League has announced a decision not have a title sponsor from season 2016/2017. The move reflects the organization’s desire to mirror major American sports leagues like the NBA and NFL in presenting a ‘clean’ brand. Having been sponsored by Barclays since 2004, in 2016 the competition will be known simply as ‘The Premier League’.
England’s top flight have been sponsored by Barclays since 2004 but at the completion of the 2015/16 season, there will be no affiliation with a corporate sponsor.
The Premier League did not have a title sponsor in its inaugural 1992/93 season of before signing a four-year deal with brewers Carling, a £12 million deal which at the time was the biggest in British sport. Carling subsequently paid triple that initial amount to secure a four-year extension to their original deal, before Barclaycard paid £48 million for a three-year contract beginning in 2001. Barclays agreed an initial three-year sponsorship deal in 2004 and subsequent extensions saw the value rise to a £120million paid for the existing three-year sponsorship in 2012.
The Premier League has had a sponsor since its inception for all but the very first year of its inception, and has been sponsored by Barclays Bank since 2004. According to the Mail, the league received £120m from Barclays for the final three years of its sponsorship.
Premier League clubs, awash with billions of pounds from TV rights, decided at their summer meeting that they can do without a title sponsor when the Barclays contract expires at the end of next season. Premier League sources have stressed their new sponsorship strategy will not impinge on their clubs’ ability to pursue their own individual commercial models.
This follows the top flight turning down a £45million-a-year offer from drinks brand Diageo, having wanted £60m. The new approach will see more secondary partnerships but allow the competition to be known as ‘The Premier League’, a major statement in this sponsorship-driven age.
A Premier League spokesman said: “Barclays has been an excellent partner for the League throughout their sponsorship of the competition and we look forward to working with them in 2015-16, the final season of their title sponsorship.”
The change will not have an impact on individual clubs’ ability to make their own sponsorship deals. While it is still not yet clear if the change to a sponsor-less system will have any impact whatsoever on the overall financial health of the Premier League.