By Alex Miller
9 October 2011
England’s football team haven’t won a major trophy since the 1966 World Cup on home soil, haven’t reached a major tournament semi-final since 1996 (on home soil) and haven’t ever got beyond a semi-final on foreign turf – and that was 21 years ago at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
But despite a manifest lack of success on the pitch, England can still command a kit deal to rival almost anybody.
A Sportingintelligence study of the kit deals for the world’s major football nations shows England’s current £26m-a-year deal with Umbro is bettered only by France’s £37m-a-year deal with Nike. (See table below for full details).
By comparison, the reigning World Cup and European Championship holders Spain have a deal worth ‘only’ £21m per year with adidas.
France, despite the shambolic showing at last year’s World Cup in South Africa and slipping down the Fifa rankings outside the top 10, began their new record-breaking kit deal in the summer.
Nike replaced adidas as suppliers to Les Bleus for a jaw-dropping £37m per year (or £260m in total). The seven-year deal was agreed in 2008 before the full impact of the global recession had been felt and with the price influenced by the nation’s World Cup and European Championship wins in 1998 and 2000.
However in recent years, Les Bleus have slumped as low as 19 in the rankings, while top players including Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry have quit international football.
England’s ability to attract top dollar is influenced by having a domestic league – the Premier League – that attracts global attention, according to Danny Townsend of sports brand analysts Repucom.
“England drives a high affinity level for markets outside of the England due to the penetration of the Barclays Premier League around the world,” he says.
“Markets such as Singapore and Thailand watch the English game and so have a closer association with the England national team than any other. Hence making the England rights more attractive.
“Equally, star quality drives international appeal with football fans following aspirational individuals such as David Beckham. Acquisition of England kit adorned with Beckham’s name proved extremely popular in Asian markets and this in part contributes to the disproportionate value derived by the French.
“Prior to the deal being concluded in 2008, France were enjoying a period of team success as well as ending an era of legends such as Zidane and Henry hence driving considerable interest in the national kit.
“Competitive tension in the market between the major brands – predominantly Nike and adidas will have an effect on the rights value achieved.”
Richard Brinkman, head of sports research company KantarSport, added: “The deals often represent the penetration of the sport in the country in question and the opportunity to sell replica kits – success does not necessarily affect the popularity of a country’s shirt.
“England along with the likes of Brazil maintain an iconic status irrelevant of success.”
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