Arsenal Cashes In with Historic Adidas Deal

The London club is set to make a killing just by wearing their shirt

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Former Arsenal keeper David Seaman / Getty Images

Last week, Arsenal signed a new apparel deal with Adidas that will begin in 2019. The figures are eye-popping; the London club will get $391M over five years, a number that trails only FC Barcelona’s Nike deal and Manchester United’s apparel deal, also with Adidas. Since Arsenal already has jersey sponsorship deals in hand with Emirates Airlines (5 years, $258M) and Visit Rwanda (3 years, $39M), they’re set to make around $130M/year just by wearing their shirt.

Unlike the major pro sports in America, prominent world soccer teams negotiate their apparel deals on their own behalf, rather than entering into a league-wide agreement like the one the NBA has with Nike. After all, there’s a reason many prominent American sports owners have gotten their hooks into the English Premier League—the game is more marketable globally than baseball or football and ownership, by design, is in more direct control of monetizing their team. For the teams themselves, the upside of making their shirts a walking billboard is impossible to resist—all the team has to do is wear them to the terms of the agreement and keep most, if not all, the revenue for themselves. 

In a landscape where live sports television rights might be the last great live TV battleground, it’s not too hard to imagine a proliferation of marketable assets sold by the teams, including naming rights to stadiums and facilities. Numerous pro sports teams, like the New York Yankees, were ahead of the curve when they decided to run their own broadcast network, in-house. With Ivan Gazidis exiting Arsenal with this financial triumph, don't be surprised if the next great branding landmark happens at AC Milan sooner than later.

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