Who pays best for the name on the chest?
Shirt sponsorship in the Bundesliga can be a lucrative business, but like everything financial, there is a huge gap between the top-earners and those at the bottom end of the scale. The Bundesliga has come a long way since the very first sponsor appeared on a club’s matchday shirt back in the early 1970’s when Eintracht Braunschweig were the front-runners when they circumvented the DFB statutes by simply using the logo of the spirits manufacturer Jägermeister as the club emblem.
Full advertising on shirts was finally approved by the DFB at the end of 1973 meaning Braunschweig could officially play its matches with the brand name “Jägermeister” on the jersey. The rest soon followed with Fortuna Düsseldorf, HSV and MSV Duisburg the first to take advantage.
The sums involved today for shirt sponsorship run into the millions of Euros per year for those at the lower end and reach highly impressive levels for those at the top. If you consider that 2.Bundesliga champions Heidenheim bring in €2 million per season, while the VW-backed VfL Wolfsburg receive between €50-60 million, then the financial gulf for sponsorship alone is immense and that is before you factor in the TV revenues.
For once in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich have to play second fiddle when it comes to shirt sponsor income with their deal with Telekom being outdone by Volkswagen’s sponsorship with Wolfsburg, although the deal with the car manufacturer extends across to club as a whole and is not limited to the matchday jersey. The appearance of Red Bull on the shirts of RasenBallsport Leipzig continues to antagonise large parts of the Bundesliga fanbase and the €35 million per season is the third highest deal alongside Borussia Dortmund’s deal with telecom firm 1&1.
As yet no Bundesliga club has gone down the route of opening their sponsorship to online betting companies (as is so prevalent elsewhere), but with Mercedes-Benz’ deal with VfB Stuttgart coming to an end, there are rumours the Swabians could do a deal with French betting company ‘Winamax’.
Some clubs have their deals tied in with stadium naming rights with Vonovia at Bochum and Augsburg both giving up their stadium name to their shirt sponsor. Elsewhere we have supermarkets (Köln), window providers (Mainz), a construction company (Werder) and a shoe manufacturer (Darmstadt).
Here’s the full list of sponsorship deals from the peanuts at Darmstadt to the big bucks at Wolfsburg: