International sports marketing agency Sportfive has been appointed by German men's soccer’s second-tier Schalke 04 to boost its commercial portfolio amid its financial woes.

The five-year deal will see Sportfive sell sponsorship and hospitality packages on behalf of the 2. Bundesliga club (and fallen giants of German soccer) via a dedicated team set up by the agency. However, as the direct partner of the sponsors, Shalke 04 will retain power over decision-making going forward.

The ongoing management of sponsor and hospitality partner relations and the implementation of rights will fall to the club.

Before this partnership, Schalke 04 has typically marketed its commercial rights in-house.

The new deal adds to Sportfive’s burgeoning portfolio of first and second division German soccer clubs. Last June, the agency extended its marketing deal with Bayer 04 Leverkusen until 2029 and Borussia Dortmund until June 2031.

The agency also has partnership with Bundesliga clubs VfB Stuttgart, FC Augsburg, and Union Berlin and Bundesliga 2 sides Hertha BSC, FC Kaiserslautern, Hamburg SC, and Hannover 96.

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Matthias Tillmann, chairman of the Schalke board, has said: “Our sales power will be more than tripled in one fell swoop. Together with Sportfive’s expertise, we will be able to realize the targeted new deals in a difficult market environment for all clubs in the short term, i.e., already with a view to the coming season. This will noticeably increase our planning security for the near and medium term.

“The partnership also offers us the opportunity to explore new, innovative avenues in sponsorship beyond the pure sales potential. I’m thinking in particular of digitalization in the hospitality sector and the potential of the [youth academy] Knappenschmiede.”

Hendrik Schiphorst, managing director of Sportfive Germany, added: “Together, we will restructure the sales organisation and take sponsorship and hospitality sales to the next level.”

The partnership comes as Schalke 04 continues to struggle on and off the pitch. After spending the last 32 years – from 1991 to 2023 – in the top-tier Bundesliga, they were relegated to the second-tier Bundesliga 2 in the 2022-23 season and currently sit 14th in the 18-team second division.

The club is also contending with around $178 million worth of debt in the face of tough economic conditions in Germany.

Sportfive’s main task will be to secure a new front-of-shirt sponsor before the start of next season, with brewer Veltins’ contract set to expire at the end of the season. Veltins stepped in on a one-year deal after online car retailer terminated its three-year deal after one season.

Veltins holds naming rights for the club’s home stadium Veltins-Arena a in a deal running through 2027 and is its official beer partner.