Premier League shakes up its sponsors

The Premier League no longer has a title sponsor, is it a sign of the financial times that change is afoot?  

Barclays banking group has sponsored the Premier League since 2001 and, for many, the bank is synonymous with what has been regarded during that time as the greatest league in the world. Within England, what has been familiarly known as the BPL will now just be the PL.

The move brings the Premier League in line with the American model found in the NFL and NBA. The League will now have no title sponsor, only category sponsors – an Official Beer, an Official Timekeeper, and Official Ball sponsor, and so on. The move is designed to open up more financial opportunities for the league and its clubs.

However, did Barclays jump or was it pushed? Did the bank fear an unjustifiable escalation of its costs and seek to switch to this multi-tiered approach? Or did the league want to switch to this new model to raise even more sponsorship cash?

The financial status of the Premier League is seemingly untouchable, even amid general uncertainty in many other industries. Another huge broadcast deal has been brokered for the 2016-17 season, strengthening the Premier League’s bargaining position yet again. With larger TV revenue and bigger audiences, the PL could have justifiably argued for more money to be its title sponsor, so was this the determinant for the two changing their relationship?

Barclays now has status as the Official Banking Partner of the Premier League. This sees the bank join Nike as official partners in their own categories, alongside Carling and Tag Heuer. But despite the new structure, Electronic Arts Sports has secured the title of “Lead Partner”, so it’s not entirely a level playing field.

Manchester City v Sunderland - Premier League(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

With the new era, we also get a new brand identity – more specifically, the face of the Premier League lion, which has been a proud symbol of the league since its inception in 1992.

Recent design trends have seen logos and brand visualizations shift towards minimalism. One only needs to look down at one’s phone for app updates to see this in action. The Premier League has followed suit with simple monotone colours, a cut-out logo and a flat image.


The isolation of the lion is perhaps a reassertion by the Premier League that it remains at the top of the food chain amid speculation that Spain now has the world’s top performers.

No one can doubt the dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid as two poles of a very powerful magnet attracting many of the best players. However, the recent success of Atletico Madrid, Sevilla etc. and the lack of English triumph in Europe’s two major competitions have certainly dented the Premier League’s stature. It remains to be seen whether the Premier League will indeed roar back to the top. With relatively inexperienced Leicester leading our way in Europe, we may have another year in Spain’s shadow.

In my opinion, the logo isn’t an instant hit. There is an entrenched heritage to the English football league. We like it that we were the pioneers, the “creators” of the world’s most popular game – and that’s an attitude that makes us anxious around change.

However, the lion could be a grower and it’s by no means dreadful. Change can be met with far more abject opinion than this – as Loughborough University’s logo change demonstrates.

Perhaps, as a Man Utd fan brought up with assured performances under Sir Alex, I’m just finding the whole new era of unpredictability a bit nerve wracking.

Our clubs themselves are a plethora of local, national and global sponsors and our cherished league, with a fresh new face, could be on the same path, which could be glorious… if a little confusing at first. 

Oliver Bridge
PRISM London, Creative Midfielder

October 9, 2017