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September 1, 2022updated 14 Sep 2022 7:22pm

Why have Nottingham Forest started the season without a shirt sponsor?

Newly promoted Nottingham Forest have yet to secure a shirt or sleeve partner ahead of the 2022-23 season.

By Tom Barrett

Despite their promotion to the English top-flight, Nottingham Forest have failed to secure a shirt sponsorship for the beginning of the 2022-23 Premier League season. On July 25, Boxt, Forest’s shirt sponsor for the previous two seasons, released a statement saying that their “multi-million-pound offer” had not been accepted by the club, leaving many questioning who were going to sponsor the newly promoted club.

In 2021, Boxt’s deal with Forest was worth $1 million, and the statement from the UK-based boiler company suggests that this would have been at least doubled. It has been rumored that Forest chairman Evangelos Marinakis is holding out for a £10-million-per-year deal, which would be more valuable than 10 other Premier League clubs, including Leicester, Newcastle, and Aston Villa.

The Premier League shirt sponsorship market is currently dominated by betting companies, with 9 out of the 20 clubs last season being sponsored by companies within the gambling industry. Forest have previously been backed by multiple betting companies, including 888sport and BetBright, suggesting that the club would not be against accepting a sponsorship from another such company if they offered enough money.

As the season goes on, the liklihood of Forest securing a sponsor for close to the £10-million figure reported redices. They only have eight televised games between now and Christmas and started their Premier League campaign with a 2-0 loss to Newcastle United. The club are expected to be in a relegation battle, and if they don’t improve their results in upcoming games against West Ham and Everton then the £10-million valuation will become even less likely.

In the 2021-22 season, the average value of shirt sponsorship for a newly promoted Premier League team was $3.87 million, with Norwich earning just $2 million from their deal with car manufacturer Lotus. However, Forest are a large, historic club with a loyal fanbase. During their 2021-22 championship campaign, they saw the second largest average home attendance, behind only Sheffield United.

By comparison, Newcastle United by are bigger still and have equally devoted fans from a large one-club city. In the opening game of their respective season, 52,245 fans attended St James’ Park, slightly higher than their previous season average of 51,487 (the seventh highest of all Premier League clubs). Even with the recent takeover of Newcastle and their impressive run of form towards the end of last season, the Tyneside club are only earning $8 million a year from betting company Fun88 for shirt sponsorship, casting doubt on whether a £10-million target for Forest is at all realistic for a newly promoted club within a football region as saturated as the Midlands.

The £10-million benchmark appears quite ambitious, and only time will tell whether the chairman’s gamble will pay off, or whether the club will have to settle for a more realistic sum of closer to £5 million. As the season continues it becomes increasingly likely that the move will not pay off, unless Forest can improve their form and produce some unexpected results.

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