Top 10 Most Iconic Football Shirt Sponsors
In 1973, German club Eintracht Braunschweig became the first in football history to put a sponsor on their team shirts, as they partnered with Jägermeister. By 1976, the trend reached England, when Kettering Town FC featured local company “Kettering Tyres” on the front of their jerseys. By the start of the 1987-88 season, every English league club had a shirt sponsor. In the time since then, we’ve seen some brilliant sponsorships grace the pitch. Here’s a list of our favourites, in no specific order. All around, we think these are the best football kit sponsors in history, England or abroad:
Philips | PSV Eindhoven – 1982 to 2016
Kicking off our list is perhaps the longest-standing partnership between a business and a club in the history of football. Dutch conglomerate Philips founded PSV Eindhoven in 1913, and the company name first appeared on their kits in 1982. The club is no longer owned by Philips and has recently switched their primary shirt sponsor, but PSV’s home stadium remains Philips Stadion.
Carlsberg | Liverpool – 1992 to 2010
Danish brewing company Carlsberg appeared on Liverpool kits for 18 years, and the shirts from this era still evoke nostalgia in Liverpool fans today. The sponsor hallmarked Liverpool’s glorious Champions League victory in 2005 and was an iconic symbol in the careers of club legends Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.
Buitoni | Napoli – 1985 to 1988
A brief but brilliant sponsorship between food company Buitoni and SSC Napoli. Argentinian superstar Diego Maradona immortalised the sponsor during his prolific years at the Southern Italian team. Against a stunning Napoli blue colour, the simple Buitoni logo culminates with the coveted Scudetto emblem in this timeless 1987-88 design.
Nintendo | Fiorentina – 1997 to 1999
Another short-lived but stylish brand partnership. The Japanese gaming and electronic company-sponsored Fiorentina shirts during two of Gabriel Batistuta’s standout seasons in the Serie A. The Nintendo logo combines with a retro 3D style player number print to create a timeless slice of football fashion.
Quilmes | Boca Juniors – 1995 to 2001 | River Plate – 1996 to 2002
Argentine brewing company Quilmes raised eyebrows for not only sponsoring two rival clubs in Buenos Aires but for sponsoring those clubs simultaneously. Five years of overlap in the late ’90s and early 2000s saw many heated contests between the two sides, even as they shared the same sponsor.
Parmalat | Parma Calcio – ca. 1989 to 2004
Dairy company Parmalat’s partnership with Parma Calcio was once a match made in heaven but ended in scandal and disgrace. After first becoming shirt sponsors, Parmalat purchased their local club Parma Calcio in 1991. The ’90s were a golden age of Parma football, as they clinched several domestic and continental trophies. In 2003, the executives at Parmalat were exposed for embezzlement and other financial crimes, and Parma football has sadly suffered a decline ever since.
Sharp | Manchester United – 1982 to 2000
Japanese tech company Sharp were on Manchester United jerseys for almost 20 years, which saw the brilliant rise of manager Sir Alex Ferguson. This era marked the first half of a monumentally successful period for the Red Devils, as they won six league titles, six FA Cups, and one Champions League with Sharp as their kit sponsor.
Teka | Real Madrid – 1992 to 2001
Global home appliance company Teka was a symbol of the pre-Galácticos era of Real Madrid football. Los Blancos lifted two Champions League trophies, three La Liga titles, and one Copa del Rey in this time.
McEwan’s Lager | Rangers FC – 1987 to 1999
Edinburgh based brewery McEwan’s Lager partnered with their Glasgow neighbours Rangers FC for a prolific period of Scottish football dominance. Their logo hallmarked an unbelievable title streak, as Rangers won nine consecutive trophies in the Scottish top-flight between 1988 and 1997.
Unicef | FC Barcelona – 2006 to 2011
(sub sponsor 2011 to present)
Perhaps the greatest shirt sponsor of all time, the partnership between FC Barcelona and Unicef is a touch of class and compassion. Barca never followed the commercial trend as nearly all other European clubs took on shirt sponsors throughout the ’80s and ’90s, but had a change of heart in 2006. For their first-ever shirt sponsor, the Catalan club chose to feature global charity Unicef and agreed to donate several million euros to the organization. Although Barcelona has recently changed their primary shirt sponsor, the club continues to donate to Unicef each year. A true embodiment of the club’s motto, més que un club, or “more than a club,” as they commit to improving the lives of underprivileged children around the globe.