Football kit is big business. With hundreds of millions of units sold each and every year, it is no wonder that sports clothing and accessory brands align themselves with teams; seeking mutually beneficial partnerships across the globe.
In fact, total sports sponsorship looks likely to surpass US$65 billion in 2019, with football accounting for a significant piece of that pie.
The corporate investment is considerable, yet the return lucrative. Presenting and marketing a fashionable, successful and elite face to a sporting public craving connection and relationship with its sports stars is marketing 101.
For the sportswear industries’ heaviest hitters, football teams are an important arm of their corporate strategy and vision.
Despite its relatively innocuous size when compared to major football leagues around the world, there is still much value in forging corporate partnerships with Australia’s A-League franchises.
That fact has not escaped the U.S based footwear, apparel and accessory giant Under Armour. From humble origins, the company has become an industry leader and its iconic corporate symbol will now adorn the kit of one of Australia’s most successful clubs.
Reigning A-League and W-League champion Sydney FC launched its 2019/20 kit in style last week and for the first time, the designs are provided by Under Armour; a new player on the A-League scene.
The deal is a major coup for the Sky Blues yet also a clear statement of intention from Under Armour; obviously looking to broaden its reach internationally.
The launch took place with all the glitz and glamour that Australia’s biggest City usually provides and its most successful football club celebrated the new association with a cruise on Sydney Harbour.
Players, club staff, partners and an array of guests attended, with Sydney midfielder Milos Ninkovic and W-League captain Teresa Polias given the honour of modelling the new home design.
The away and alternate strips were also showcased and all contain an indelible symbol that clearly connects the club to both fans and the local environment.
Senior design manger on Under Armour’s Global Football Team Karen Patterson explained.
“Using sky blue as the focal point, conceptually we designed the three kits to incorporate the club’s traditional colours while also giving a nod to the Sydney Opera House – an iconic symbol for the club and for supporters around the world.”
The strips are visually stunning and using state of the art material technology, also provide Sydney’s teams with the best chance of success in what will be demanding and competitive seasons in both the A and W Leagues in 2019/20.
The four-year deal sets up a relationship based on successful branding and imaging, a quality that both parties pursue. It is something Sydney FC achieved last season when it raised both the men’s and women’s championship trophies and also what Under Armour aim to achieve by producing bold and innovative designs in their development of football kit.
Certainly in the case of Sydney FC, they appear to have hit the mark.
With Puma, Umbro, Macron, Adidas, Nike and Kappa already in the A-League kit arena, the new player enters a competitive and challenging local market and Sydney FC becomes the 18th club backed by the brand across the globe.
The medium term vision for the company must surely include forging a deal with a European powerhouse club that will ingrain their name even more deeply into the world game.
Thanks to the ever-increasing importance of global branding and corporate involvement in all sport, clubs benefit considerably from both the product provided and the associated aesthetics that permeate in a world of impression and reputation.
This new arrangement is an exciting development for the league and Sydney FC will look stunning on the pitch in spite of any disappointing results. It will be interesting to see the competitors’ offerings as we move nearer to season kick-off in October and wonderful if more and more young kids begin wearing the colours of their favourite A-League team instead of far-flung international clubs.