Unbundling rights key to long-term financial success of women’s football – Deloitte Sports Business Group
6 April 2019
- Deloitte reveals women’s football metrics for the first time with additional findings from its annual Football Money League report;
- Three-fifths of football clubs in world’s top women’s leagues have front-of-shirt sponsors that differ from the men’s team. Deloitte predicts this will rise to 100% in time for the 2023 Women’s World Cup;
- England’s FA Women’s Super League has the lowest proportion of unbundled sponsorship, with just four clubs having separate front-of-shirt sponsors.
Three-fifths (60%) of top flight women’s football clubs globally have front-of-shirt sponsors that are different to the men’s equivalent, according to new research from Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. The findings, based on information from the 2018/19 season, illustrate the growing trend of ‘unbundling’ sponsorship and commercial deals for women’s football. As clubs, rights holders and potential commercial partners recognise the financial benefits of unbundling, Deloitte expects that the proportion of teams with distinct main sponsors to rise to 100% by the time of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Izzy Wray, consultant in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, commented: “Historically, rights to a women’s football club or competition have been bundled as part of a broader package with the men’s equivalent. Commercial partners and broadcasters have tended to primarily focus on, and value, men’s clubs or competitions, with the women’s game not valued on its stand-alone merits. However, stakeholders are now seeing the many advantages of investing in a rapidly growing area of the world’s favourite sport.”
English clubs playing shirt sponsor catch-up
Deloitte’s analysis of the top women’s football leagues globally found that only one club in the USA’s National Women’s Soccer League (13%) has the same front-of-shirt sponsor as the club’s men’s equivalent team. This compares to 25% in both France’s Division 1 Féminine and Germany’s Frauen-Bundesliga. At 64%, England’s FA Women’s Super League has the highest proportion, with only four clubs having a different main shirt sponsor for their women’s team.
Wray added: “Our analysis suggests there is currently a greater desire for brands to have an association with a women’s team from France, Germany or the USA rather than in England. Teams playing in England also have the highest proportion of equivalent men’s team’s playing top flight football: 73% compared to 58% in France and Germany, and 50% in the USA. This reflects the commitment to, and investment in, the women’s game by many of the biggest English clubs. Given the commercial value of top flight men’s football, it may be that clubs have previously thought that unbundling rights to the women’s team, as opposed to selling it together in their established men’s team brand, would not provide a significant incremental commercial benefit.”
Opportunity for wealthiest clubs to build on momentum
Additional findings from Deloitte’s Football Money League report show that there is now increasingly a recognition of opportunity for even the sport’s wealthiest clubs to increase commercial revenue through separate sponsorship deals for the women’s team. Out of the 20 highest revenue generating clubs in world football, 17 have a women’s team and of these, only nine (53%) have a separate front-of-shirt women’s team sponsor.
The potential to increase commercial revenue is there for two of the three highest revenue-generating clubs in world football, Real Madrid and Manchester United. Despite generating 2017/18 revenues of €750.9m and €666m respectively, Real Madrid does not have a women’s team and Manchester United does not have a separate front-of-shirt sponsor for their women’s team.
Increasing attendances and TV audiences are signalling the rising popularity in the women’s game. This year's 2019 Women's World Cup is expected to draw in a record-number of spectators and television viewers, sparking greater interest from brands and advertisers. In the last month, 60,739 fans saw Atletico Madrid take on Barcelona in a top-of-the-table clash in Madrid, a world record for a women’s club game.
Wray concluded: “Women’s football has never been more popular and the non-financial measures, including matchday attendances and TV audiences for women’s football, are going from strength to strength. Not only have we seen double-digital growth in TV audience figures for recent tournaments, but the world record club match attendance has been broken twice in the last year.
“There is now a clear financial opportunity for some of the biggest clubs in world football to realise the full value of their women’s football rights, and for brands to demonstrate they are committed to, and recognise the value of, women’s football. We expect separate sponsorship of women’s elite teams to become the norm. Not only will this provide a way to measure the financial value of women’s football, it will build greater media and fan interest, in turn generating a larger return on investment for the commercial partner.”
Notes to editors
To review the full findings of the Deloitte Football Money League, please visit: www.deloitte.co.uk/sportsbusinessgroup.
About the Sports Business Group at Deloitte
Over the last 20 years Deloitte has developed a unique focus on the business of sport. Our specialist Sports Business Group offers a multi-disciplined expert service with dedicated people and skills capable of adding significant value to the business of sport. Whether it is benchmarking or strategic business reviews, operational turnarounds, revenue enhancement strategies or stadium/venue development plans, business planning, market and demand analysis, acquisitions, due diligence, expert witness, audits or tax planning; we have worked with more clubs, leagues, governing bodies, stadia developers, event organisers, commercial partners, financiers and investors than any other adviser.
For further information on our services you can access our website at www.deloitte.co.uk/sportsbusinessgroup
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