As the highly anticipated FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United approaches, the focus not only lies on the intense rivalry between the two, but also around the sponsorship and partnership dynamics surrounding the clubs.
Emirates has been the title sponsor for the prestigious FA Cup since the 2015-16 season labeling the tournament, The Emirates FA Cup. The Dubai based airline company has been a longtime supporter of English football and has also been the primary jersey sponsor for Arsenal FC since 2006.
With the teams vying for a title, both clubs’ partnerships have garnered additional attention, especially the clubs kits.
Manchester City recently announced the renewal of one of the clubs longest standing partnerships. Nexen Tire is currently the club’s jersey sleeve partner, however, the brand has made a notable change in its activation strategy. With the deal renewal, instead of brand exposure on the club’s playing kit, the tire manufacturer will concentrate on brand identity and focusing more on digital activations, creative content and increased localization in priority markets. With no jersey sleeve partner currently signed for the 2023-24 season, this leaves an open opportunity for the 60+ current sponsors to extend their partnership with the club or a new brand to come in and secure the deal.
Manchester United boasts a comprehensive structure for partnerships, divided into four tiers: Global Partners, Regional Partners, Financial Partners, and Media Partners. The Global partners receive the most exclusive rights which include stadium signage, player access, and global marketing rights. DXC, adidas, Tezos, and TeamViewer are a few brands who have this title. In December, the club announced that they would conclude its front-of-shirt deal with TeamViewer, one of their Global Partners, and seek a new sponsor in a post-COVID “normalized market”. With an opportunity to gain awareness on the front of a global team, brands will be lining up to spark a new deal with the club. The team currently has just over 40 sponsorship deals.
In the realm of social media, Manchester United holds the distinction of having the highest social media following across the Premier League. With a staggering 200M followers, they rank 3rd in Europe, behind Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Manchester United’s total engagement of 32M this season surpasses that of Manchester City, despite City having 2.5x the number of posts.