Stadium Naming Rights – The Last Resource: AGH Worldwide comment at the latest commercial trend in English sport

February 23, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
February 23, 2010 - Stadium naming rights deals are becoming part of the fabric of British sport as clubs look to monetise a large capital asset. In a survey undertaken by AGH Worldwide, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham have all confirmed their naming rights are for sale at significantly more than Arsenal currently receive. Newcastle United have also loaned out the naming rights to Mike Ashley's online store as an indicator to future sponsors.

Clubs are pursuing naming rights deals in order to commercialise one of their largest assets. Following the success of Emirates' association with Arsenal this once maligned source of club revenue is growing more attractive. With the Premier League broadcast in over 200 territories and to over 600 million homes and an aggregate reach of 4.77bn there are clear benefits to potential partners.

Joining the club in a naming rights deal the brand becomes one of the most important partners of the club and gains greater access to fans and also a greater involvement with the club. Implementing an activation plan with the club will be the difference between a successful rebranding of the stadium and a ground that is the sponsor's by name alone. For naming rights deals in the UK it is vital to appreciate the power and importance of the fans as it is they who will decide how successful the deal is.

In America where only the Yankees have avoided a naming rights deal on their stadium the transient nature of franchises ensures that there is not the same level of loyalty and fanaticism that there is in the UK for brands to overcome. The best way to gain the support of the fans is to provide them with a better matchday experience. Whether this is based on improved results on the pitch or a bigger, better stadium the naming rights partner must become directly associated and responsible for this improvement.

The success of the Emirates deal with Arsenal Football Club can be attributed to the contribution made by the Dubai airline in the completion of the stadium. Without their significant upfront investment in the deal it is unlikely Arsenal would have received such favourable financing. This positive contribution helped endear them to the fans. This is far easier on a new build stadium compared with renaming an existing ground. For a club like Newcastle United the fans will be hard to win over and the only way for this to happen is if the new partner becomes responsible for the success of the club.

Stadium naming rights can be a valuable source of income for football clubs and provided the fans interests are at heart can lead to a very successful partnership. If, however, fans are railroaded into accepting a new name without seeing any benefits, the brand and the club will both suffer in the long run.