We have talked previously about the strong link between drinking beer and football (see Football and Beer, the Perfect Mix) , and how the two pursuits go hand in hand. Well lets have a look at shirt sponsorship with beer brands, from the iconic to the absurd…..
Football, of all the sports, is clearly the best sport for a brewery to get involved in. From drinking beers on the way to or back from a game, to buying a few cans to sit and watch the big match on the tele, or hanging out at the bar at your local clubhouse, yes football is where you tend to find the beer drinkers. You could argue that (binge) drinking, and not football, is in fact the national pastime (for Ireland and the UK at least!)
Beer gives the buzz, and the game seals the deal. Win, lose or draw, back to the pub for the pints to regurgitate the game, and dish the centre forward for missing what your granny could score or some shite like that. Having a beer really is a central part of the match day experience.
Anyway this football and beer malarkey is a dream for beer companies in the advertisement wars. Heineken sponsor the Champions League, Carlsberg the last Euros, while Budweiser sponsored the last World Cup. In The UK, Carling was a sponsor of the English Premier, we have the Budweiser FA Cup, and a huge number of teams are sponsored by beer companies. The relationship between major beer brands and football is now firmly established.
Get your brand associated with a high performing team or linked to a World Cup and the whole planet will notice, that kind of exposure is priceless in the marketing world. During a big football game expect a huge hike in the amount of beer sold. Budweiser reported that in the last World Cup year its sales increased by over 35%, no doubt in part to the football. But all beer companies see a significant spike in sales during a major international football tournament, whether they are a main sponsor or not. Imagine how many beers will be drowned next year for the World Cup in Russia, which is kind of funny as Russia currently has bans on alcohol sales in and around their football stadiums. Never mind how Budweiser are going to deal with that well known beer friendly nation Qatar in 2022!
So lets have a look at shirt sponsorship then. All teams have them these days, but it was back in 1973 where it all began (in Europe at least). Günter Mast, the nephew of Jagermeister creator Curt Mast, came up with the novel idea of putting the German liqueur’s signature stag and cross logo on to German Bundesliga team Eintracht Braunschweig’s shirt. Although not officially sanctioned at the start the Bundesliga eventually saw sense and let the team have their sponsor, no doubt seeing the benefits that extra revenue could bring to the game.
Nowadays shirt sponsorship is big business. In 2014 Manchester United signed a seven-year $559 million contract with Chevrolet, Bayern Munich gets $111 million per year from its jersey and stadium sponsorship deals with long standing partner Adidas, while Emirates Airline’s three major teams on its books- Real Madrid, Arsenal and PSG – are worth a combined $105 million annually. Yes shirt sponsorship is big business.
So lets have a look at some iconic football shirts that had beer sponsors……..
Falkirk and River Plate
Budweiser, the King of Beers, is the long-standing Official Beer of the FIFA World Cup
Budweiser have also sponsored The FA Cup since 2011
It is hard to believe but at the moment Everton are the only Premier League side that still sports a beer brand on their chest, sponsored by the Thai brewery since 2004
Celtic and Rangers, so they covered both sides of the divide in that city!
Carling was the first sponsor of the Premiership, from 1993-2001
Carling were also synonymous with the Carling Cup, sponsoring the league cup from 2003 to 2012
Wimbledon, Liverpool, and Hibernian.
Liverpool are very strongly related with the Danish brewery, who have sponsored the team for eighteen long years from 1992 to 2010, ending 18 years of close cooperation.
Carlsberg are also a long-term sponsor of the UEFA European Championship, from Euro ’88 to right up to the last Euros 2016 in France.
They are also the “official beer of the England Football Team”, which explains a lot when you think of some of the more recent England performances.
Carlsberg also have sponsored the Chinese Super League, eager to cash in on a league that seems to be growing in both popularity and notoriety.
Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle, funnily enough both teams had the same sponsors during the early 1990’s. Lucky for the Scottish brewery, Rovers won the league in 1995.
They also sponsored Rangers North of the Border
Before Chelsea had so many fans, Coors from the US sponsored the west London club
Newcastle Brown Ale
Newcastle United were sponsored by their hometown brew between 1995 and 2000.
The Spurs were sponsored by German beer company Holsten on two separate occasions. First, between 1983 and 1995, and then again between 1999 to 2002.
Cork City and the classic Guinness QPR shirt
This Canadian brewing company had its logo on Nottingham Forest’s shirts from 1994 to 1997.
1860 Munich and the well known German brew Lowenbrau
Derry City and Glentoran, (Northern) Irish clubs, Irish beer
Notts County 1994-1996 with what looks like a farmers shirt!
Boca Juniors and Quilmes
Bass Pale Ale
Derby centenary shirt ’84, and Bass
Napoli and Peroni
Hearts and Leeds United
Norwich, shit team, shit beer
Wisla Krakow and Polish favourite Tyskie
Deportivo Lugo, who play in the Spanish Second Division and Estrella Galicia
Black Death Vodka
Scarborough Athletic. Sadly this shirt was banned by those joyless bastards in the English FA, in 1990. But not to worry as the club did manage to sell a load of them on retro football shirt sites, so it wasn’t all bad for the club.
Correct me if I am wrong but I dont think Heineken sponsor any actual team shirt, but they do sponsor a shit load of sporting events, from Rugby to Tennis,
In Football they are the top sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, having sponsored the top club competition in the world since 2005,
They also sponsor the Major League Soccer, hoping to capitalise on the ever growing popularity of “sacca” in the USA, in a 5 year deal worth $50 million.