Each week, a deal is selected that illustrates the themes driving change in the sports industry. They may not always be the largest deals in value or those of the highest profile, but they tell us where the leading players are focusing their efforts and why. Our thematic deal coverage is driven by our underlying Disruptor data that tracks all major deals across our sectors.

The deal

On Monday (July 31), Manchester United, the English soccer giants, and major German sportswear brand adidas extended their long-standing kit supply deal until 2035.

The 10-year renewal is worth a minimum of £900 million ($1.1 billion), or £90 million per season, “subject to certain adjustments.” This will again make it the most lucrative in the history of the top-flight Premier League.

Man United’s extension with Adidas will see the partnership between the two parties last at least 18 years.

Richard Arnold, Manchester United’s chief executive, said: “The relationship between Manchester United and Adidas is one of the most iconic in world sport. We are now looking forward to refreshing this powerful partnership again through the remainder of this decade and into the 2030s.”

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Why it matters

The existing contract between the club and Adidas was due to expire at the end of the 2024-25 campaign.

With Man United in the market for a new shirt sponsor, it was key for the Premier League side to have long-term stability with their kit deal.

The team will be replacing global technology firm TeamViewer from the front of their shirts after the two parties agreed to end their contract three years early.

The value of the deal with Adidas also demonstrates the commercial power of the club despite a lack of on-field success in recent years and uncertainty over its ownership.

The Glazer family has been negotiating a sale for several months with British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

GlobalData analyst Jake Kemp said: “Despite the partnership already being the biggest in the Premier League and with two seasons still remaining on the contract, the extension with Adidas reaffirms the value of the partnership for both brand and club.

“It further emphasizes the strength of the commercial appeal of Manchester United, even despite the club's lack of success in the Premier League and Europe.

“At a reported £90 million a year, it is comfortably the biggest deal in the league, eclipsing its current deal value of £75 million. No other kit partnership comes close, with Manchester City’s deal with Puma the nearest at £65 million annually. It further puts United’s new value at three times the basic value of both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur’s deals with NIKE.

“Though the deal still dwarfs anything else seen in the UK soccer market, the £90 million annual value still puts it comfortably behind Real Madrid and Barcelona’s deals with Adidas and Nike, respectively. Real Madrid remains the biggest earner from Adidas at €120 million a season (until 2028) and Barcelona have the most lucrative contract in world soccer, with Nike paying €155 million a season.

“Manchester United’s Adidas deal has been concluded despite the uncertainty around the club’s ownership structure, with their strong performance in the 2022-23 season seemingly enough to show Adidas that United can still compete at the highest level in the coming years.

“One potential area where Adidas will be wary of surrounds the club’s links to Mason Greenwood. The 21-year-old forward was initially dropped by Manchester United in October 2022 following a charge of attempted rape, causing bodily harm, and coercive behavior. That saw him dropped from the first team and lose his major sponsorship deal with rivals Nike but importantly still retained on United’s books.

“There remains uncertainty on whether United are willing to welcome Greenwood back to the team after the police dropped his charges in February this year. Any potential return will undoubtedly be contentious with fans and sponsors and Adidas may have its own reservations about being linked to Greenwood, regardless of the charges being dropped.”

The detail

Man United’s previous decade-long agreement with Adidas, which began in the 2015-16 season, was valued at a total of £750 million.

As mentioned above, the new deal will be the third-largest kit supply contract in soccer behind Spanish heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid.

TeamViewer’s shirt sponsorship contract, which was signed in March 2021, is worth in the region of £47 million per year.

Meanwhile, the team last year brought in blockchain platform Tezos as their training kit sponsor in a major multi-year partnership valued at around £20 million a year.

In June, Man United posted their financial results for the third quarter of the year which showed the club's commercial revenue increased by 5.8% year-on-year to £69.4 million. Sponsorship income amounted to £41 million, an increase year-on-year of 4.6%. 

More reading

Kit Suppliers in Major European Soccer Markets 2022-23

Manchester United's global partners

Image: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images