[PARIS] The English Premier League and Spain's La Liga led a US$130 million rise in shirt sponsorship deals for Europe's top championships last year, according to a report released on Tuesday.
After booming television rights, outfit sponsorship has become a valuable new source of income for top European clubs, some of whom now even put company names on their socks. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become the main spender on getting their name on football shirts.
The Repucom sports data firm said income from jersey sponsorship rose more than 20 per cent last year to 687 million euros (S$1.05 billion) for the leagues in England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
"With investment in 2014/15 growing 20 per cent over last season, the investment in shirt sponsorship has increased faster than at any time in the last 15 years," said Glenn Lovett, Repucom's head of global strategy.
The 20 Premier League clubs saw shirt revenue increase 36 per cent to 213 million euros. Manchester United last year made a shirt deal with US carmaker Chevrolet worth £47 million (S$98.7 million) a year, up £20 million on their previous deal.
La Liga's income rose 30 per cent to 113 million euros, Barcelona's deal with Qatar Airways, reportedly worth about 40 million euros, being the most expensive.
The Bundesliga earned 139 million euros, up nine per cent, while France's Ligue 1 got 13 per cent more, with 96 million euros and Italy's Serie A got 21 per cent more with 84 million euros.
However, the Dutch first division saw its jersey sponsorship income fall by five per cent to 42 million euros, according to Repucom.
The Netherlands has now been overtaken by Major League Soccer in the United States, which reaped approximately 45 million euros.
With the Middle East now the main source of the new sponsorship revenue, about 120 million euros came from the UAE alone.
Emirates airline pays to put its name on the shirts of Real Madrid, Arsenal, AC Milan and Paris Saint Germain, accounting for much of that sum.
Behind the UAE, German firms are the next biggest sponsors on 112 million euros and, increasingly, US companies on 82 million euros.
Clubs are increasingly looking to spread advertising across outfits, though the Premier League and Bundesliga limit advertising space.
In Europe's other top football leagues, however, there has been a significant increase in deals which include branding on socks, shorts and the back of shirts.
A Repucom spokesman said the number of deals involving socks and other new areas had doubled over the past decade.
Spanish champions Atletico Madrid last year became the first of 14 La Liga clubs to wear advertising on ties around their socks.
Manchester United last year reportedly pressed for sponsor names on the back of shirts, but other Premier League clubs refused.