Why Premier League Clubs Need To Think Globally, Not Locally

What do SB Waste Management and Recycling Services, Haynes Manuals, Brindley Kia, The Money Shop, Imperial Snack Foods and Beacon Radio all have in common? Answer – they’re all sponsors of signboard advertising at Molineux, the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

This isn’t meant to be a plug for those companies. Far from it. It’s just an example of how a typical Premier League football clubs focuses so much on local advertising to the detriment of the amount of revenue they could be generating by acquiring global brands to advertise and beaming those advertising messages around the world.

For a laugh, a couple of seasons ago while I was bored watching a Bolton Wanderers match on television, I wrote down the names of some of the signboard advertisers that were sprinkled around the Reebok Stadium. The majority of them were either local or British companies. I contacted each of them and told them that I was interested in learning more about their products and services. Out of the dozen I contacted, only a few replied. One sent me a brochure in the mail. Another replied back saying she didn’t think it was a fit. And the third didn’t understand what I was asking for.

The reality is that Premier League clubs around England are leaving a lot of money on the table by not approaching global brands. For sales representatives in England, it’s much easier to ring up local businesses and meet them face to face and tell them how wonderful it would be for their company to advertise at XYZ football ground. There’s something comforting and immediate about that type of advertising, and there’s nothing wrong about it. But it may be better suited to be inside a football programme instead of around the pitch when many of those games are watched by millions of people around the world.

I’m trying to tell Premier League clubs how to run their advertising sales. They’d be better off hiring an agency who would go out there and sell the club’s signboard advertising to global brands who would love to have that level of exposure from the world’s most popular sports league. And, of course, the club would make a ton more money even after the agency fee is taken out.

Local signboard advertising is another example of how shortsighted Premier League clubs are. It’s almost as if they don’t realize the potential of how much more money they could be making if they just thought about their business differently. Sure, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers are hardly glamorous football clubs, but it’s all about positioning. Sales and marketing representatives can position both of those clubs as two of the most historic clubs in England (which they are), both of whom have won major trophies (which is true) and how both of them are playing in the best league in the world.

By forging relationships with international brands, clubs like Wolves and Bolton (and others) not only generate more revenue, but they also build their brand around the world.

35 thoughts on “Why Premier League Clubs Need To Think Globally, Not Locally”

  1. I completely disagree, while global branding might bring in more money, it is selling the local soul out to the corporations. The smaller clubs need that local following and feel, to survive.

  2. great point. im sure there are a ton of medium to large multinational corporations that would be willingly to advertise in EPL stadiums. they could generate so much more revenue. they are really leaving a lot of money on the table.

  3. Of course, loads of global companies are lining up to throw thousands of pounds for a small sign at Molineux and the Reebok Stadium where the crowds are 50% smaller than Anfield, Old Trafford etc, and one side of the pitch doesnt get seen on telly anyway. Not that Molineux and the Reebok’s games aren’t screened around the World on a weekly basis…

  4. I know this is a bit beside the point, but one of the best advertisers at the Reebok is “Howarth’s Funeral Services” My dad and I joke that it’s for depressed Bolton fans who commit suicide. I do think having local companies give you more of a laugh, but there is no doubt smaller clubs could increase their revenue by getting larger advertising companies. Maybe Bolton could by a 10 million pound striker who could actually score then…

  5. As one of those idiots who reads every possible ad that shows up around the pitch during a match, I take your point. :-)

    Is there some sort of “Adverts Anonymous” program to help me??

  6. The largest TV audience of the EPL is outside the UK and Pukka-Pies do not ship outside the UK. The big clubs have been thinking globally for years so why not the smaller clubs. The biggest shirt sponsers are international companies. There is obviously room for local adverts but like it or not the EPL is a global product.

      1. It’s not a delicate balance of herbs and spices, but it is perfect at half-time or on a night out.

        International adverts around the pitch and locals in the match-day literature?

  7. Fulham hired Fenway Sports Group (FSG), a marketing company owned and ran by the Boston Red Sox to handle just this. They are amung the best Sport Marketers in the U.S. and it will be interesting to see how much they can help the bottom line at Craven Cottage.

  8. This is easier said than done. Most National companies do not sign partnerships at the local level…it’s handled by a local rep/Regional VP, etc.

    That said – if it’s anything like the US, those companies with signboards are still spending in the Hundreds of Thousands of Pounds to get that sign.

    In fact, you probably get more money on average from a local person for that sign…National Companies tend to have big agencies, and big agencies will beat up sports teams on rate all day long. There’s no emotion to the buy, and they have their hand in so many marketing opportunities, they pare costs wherever possible.

    It’s an interesting idea to bring up, Gaffer, but I think you’re misguided.

    Look at even MLB or NFL Signboards…they may be national companies, but they’re usually national companies that are headquartered in that market. Coca-Cola, Home Depot, etc. in Atlanta, for example.

  9. For these smaller clubs, perhaps they can run advertising deals based on individual matches–similar to some F1 team sponsorships.
    For example, when United comes to Burnley (games that will guaranteed global coverage), they can charge an arm and a leg for stadium advertising. When they host Bolton, they can go back to whatever Fishwick Minibus Sales.
    It may sound like a money grab, but why leave money on the table?

  10. I have a friend who is a Manchester City fan and he said something to me a while ago. He told me Manchester City fans are all locals and he prefers it that way and I spent a long time wondering why he would think like that.

    Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world and the great thing is it has fans from all over the world coming and its a wonderful experience seeing so many people bought together.

    I’ve been in situations at Old Trafford where people have travelled from around the world and I’d had to help them find their seats or show them around and tell them where bathrooms are because they’ve never ben there.

    It’s an amazing experience seeing these rookies experience their first match, soak up that experience and just watching their face.. forget the damn goal just look at the dude at his first match!

    I think they can do a good job of spreading football to more than a few names and faces I think they can make this thing much bigger and bring the joy of football to a lot more people.

    1. Because when a third of the ground are just visiting on a day trip, it completely saps the atmosphere. One visit to Old Trafford can prove that.

      1. You don’t know very much about football do you?

        The season ticket holders like myself are the quietest ones. We love our football but when you’ve been to practically every match for a few years you’ve seen it all. The new fans are the loudest ones and create the atmosphere.

        1. Are you for REAL?

          The new fans who don’t know any songs?

          Hardened fans are the quietest because they have seen it all? OMG.

          I have read some crap on this site, but I think you take the prize for that mate. You must sit in a posh stand.

          Trust me, as someone who has been to more matches than you have had hot dinners, you are wrong.

          1. Your the genius who thought Ronaldinho played badly when he scored a goal and set the other one up.. lol

            Plus aren’t you a Wolves fan? If that is the case then how many times could you have been to Old Trafford?

            I mean lets face it the Wolves stadium isn’t exactly Old Trafford or anything close and if the only time you have visited Old Trafford is to watch United vs Wolves then obviously people are not going to be raising the roof. After all United vs Wolves isn’t the most exciting game its usually too one sided and insignificant to be that.

          2. Mate do yourself a favour, your sound like a complete football newb.

            I’m guessing from the things you type that I have been to Old Trafford more times than you. I follow Wolves home and away, went this season, and in 03/04.

            The vast majority of real Man Utd fans are concerned about the amount of day-trippers, due to the adverse effect on atmosphere. It isn’t even up for discussion, its a commonly accepted fact. Having spoken to Liverpool fans before our game there on Boxing Day, they have similar concerns.

            People sitting down, taking photos, screaming (! Yes, it happens!) etc, just isn’t football.

            I accept that playing a team (such as Wolves) that you expect to beat sometimes detracts from noise in a ground – we saw it all the time at Molineux when we were in the Championship. But as I said, you are seriously out of touch if you haven’t heard of the daytripper problem!

            As for Ronaldinho, I stand by my comments. He didn’t look bothered for the majority of the game. Yes, he did a few pretty tricks – something as a newb I’m sure you creamed over, but he shirked responsibility all over the pitch. My view is one shared by a huge amount of football critics in the papers today.

          3. If I am getting what you said right you went to Old Trafford this year and then once 7 or so years ago and your an expert at the atmosphere at Old Trafford? Wow what a way to make yourself look like an idiot.

            Who do you think is going to show up and make noise about United playing Wolves? I’m sure even with your lack of intelligence it isn’t hard to understand that isn’t a big game and United are expected to trounce Wolves. Nobody is going to be raising their voice for a game like that.

            The big games where something is at stake and United may lose are the ones that get the rabid loud fans but like I said if your only experience of Old Trafford is United playing Wolves I don’t know what kind of atmosphere you would expect.

            If you want to see what Old Trafford is like go there when they are playing Manchester City and try going more frequently you can’t base your knowledge on going 2 or 3 times over the course of 6 or 7 years.

            Also for future reference everybody has an opinion but an informed opinion is the best opinion. Your opinion consists around very little experience of your own and hearsay from others. Its not exactly ideal to be so sure of yourself when you’ve got no real experience with the subject.

          4. Tyson, you are digging yourself a hole.

            Reading your previous posts on other issues it is obvious you are either a) not a STH, and just a bit of a Man Utd fanboy, or b) someone who inexplicably knows nothing about football.

            I agree we are all entitled to our opinions, but if opinion was that the Earth is flat, I would be wrong, and I would expect people to tell me.

            Yes, I have been to Old Trafford twice in 7 years – both times my team has played there. But that doesn’t mean I am not qualified to speak on the matter. I travel to watch Wolves week in week out, home and away. Doing that you get to speak to lots of different fans, you have your finger on the pulse. You go to enough games to see what an atmosphere is and how it is created for Gods sake!

            I ACCEPTED that playing a lesser team sometimes detracts from the atmosphere due to expectation levels, mainly if those expectations aren’t being met. But you seem to be suggesting that everytime a big team plays a small team there can be no atmosphere. That is wrong. You seem to think that chanting only happens in close games. Again, that is wrong.

            You are claiming it is day trippers to grounds that make all the noise. I could argue till I am blue in the face, but again, and finally, you are wrong.

            This is no offence to any people who are/have been day trippers. I have no personal problem with it, and it is unlikely to be something Wolves have to worry about, I’m just shocked by Tyson’s inaccuracies!

            I wonder if he would claim that day trippers to the San Siro show the Ultras how to make noise!?

          5. Tom you’ve been to Old Trafford twice in 7 years and you think you are a certified expert in the atmosphere at Old Trafford?

            If I am saying something wrong then please correct me but I just don’t see how you can judge the atmosphere at the club with your own experiences through such a narrow perspective.

            I mean no offense to any Wolves supporter but do you guys honestly think the fans at Old Trafford get giddy with aniticipation when Wolves is visiting? I’ve been to that tie before and I’ll be the first to admit the ground is so quiet you’d think theres a 90 minute silence… the matches against the smaller clubs are very quiet but then again what do you expect?

            Like I said everybody is entitled to their own opinion and I am not taking anything away from you but I just find it funny you feel you can speak so assertively when you yourself admit your experience is limited both in terms of how often you’ve visited and the size of the games you’ve been to.

          6. Tom,

            I think your A & B question about Tyson is totally wrong……….

            He is not A or B, but both A & B together (put a C,D,E and F if you like you would still be right). As you have clearly realised by now Tyson is a nugget of the highest order. A sky season ticket holder at best. What we in Manchester call a total loon!

  11. i think it is no surprise that the team you site is a newly promoted club. i am sure the deals that were signed to bring in those sponsors were done prior to their promotion. bottom line, they are likely contractually bound to those companies.

    the need to modify their contracts to include an escape clause should they be promoted. none of these clubs are stupid, if they could break their old contracts and get new ones . . . i am sure they would. no one wants to waste a good revenue stream.

  12. Speaking from a Wolves POV, there is no way our Chief Exec would let any revenue stream go. So I disagree that the clubs just aren’t looking for better advertisers.

    As mentioned, it may be that multi-national corps drive a harder bargain than local firms who want to target local people in the most effective way.

  13. Globalisation is here in the EPL which is an international product. Barclays is a big international bank and a big global brand. Wolverhampton Wanderers are not a big international brand. I don’t see them even being in the premiership next season.

    A good example of an international brand sponsoring a club is Everton with Chang beer. Everton have a huge following over in Thailand. Hence the sponsorship.

    But the clubs need to keep to there grass roots. They are part of a local economy an example of this is lets say Everton.

    I am using these figures of an example

    40,000 people go to an Everton home game every week.

    Thats 40,000 people who are aware of Bobs Pie Shop in Everton as a result of seeing the board at the game.

    Then theres the 30,000 Everton Fans who are in the region watching the game online live as they can’t get a ticket or afford to go to the game.

    Then the 200,000 local people who watch the match highlights on match of the day.

    The clubs are big part of the local economy.

    1. Well said. I think Everton have done a lot right. I think Manchester United have done well in Asia and Real Madrid are looking at that market in the right way too.

      Wolverhampton is a tiny club that probably won’t be in the PL next year. They are far from anything like an international brand so I wouldn’t really put them in this conversation.

      1. Well yes, relatively we are a small club on current terms. But those of you not from the UK should know that Wolves are one of the grand old teams of English football. Wolves were the Man Utd of the 1950’s (it was Wolves’ supremacy in the 50’s, and our beating of Europe’s best in friendly matches that inspired the French to push for a European Cup).

        Also, this table may be of interest to you:


        No-one who knows about football would really call Wolves a ‘tiny’ club. Quite frankly, I feel embarrassed for Tyson as each post shows more of his lack of knowledge of the English game.

        1. lol does it matter where Wolves were 60 years ago nowadays they are struggling to stay in the PL. What happens NOW and HERE actually matters. If you performed well 60 years ago and got to this new low then I’d say I’m more embarassed for you than anything.

          Maybe you’ll be relevant in the next 60 years but until then Wolves are a small club and far from an international brand.

          1. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not living off the back of successes far before my time.

            All I am saying is that the size of a club is reliant on several factors. Factors such as history, silverware – both which Wolves do very well on.

            Others such as fanbase, we also do extremely well on, people who know English football accept that Wolves fanbase is only second to Villa’s in the Midlands.

            Man Utd are an enormous club, we are nowhere near as big as them, but to say we are a tiny/small club offends the fact there are 92 clubs in the football league. Relatively which, Wolves are a big club.

            Wolves are similar to West Brom, Derby, Forest, Norwich,…all these great old clubs with loads of fans. Obviously you can’t compare them to Man Utd/Chelsea, but that doesn’t mean they are small clubs, only a bit of a newbie would suggest that.

            You probably think Fulham is a much bigger club than the teams I have just mentioned. But any educated football follower would know that Fulham have had some done remarkable well over the last decade, but they aren’t really regarded a big club, in fact, far smaller than teams like Wolves.

            I fear my argument may be lost on many on here, afterall it is EPLtalk, and it is designed as an introduction to English football. I have no problem with that. I just wish some new fans would care to learn English football in general a bit more, instead of labelling every promoted team as ‘minnows’.


          2. Tom I didn’t mean to discount Wolves past achievements but I think my statement about Wolves being a small club is very relevant now.

            I mean this article is about global expansion and the subject was international brands. In that regard Wolves isn’t even in the same universe as the global clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid.

            Wolves has seen heights I won’t deny that but right now I wouldn’t exactly put their name on the list of “international brand” I think they are very far from becoming an international brand.

            Again anything can happen in football but I don’t think they will become an international brand for at least the foreseeable future so don’t get me wrong not a bad club and has a good history but in my opinion they have very very far to go before they can be considered an international brand.

          3. I agree Tyson, Wolves are a mileoff being a global brand. But I’d suggest this article was relevant to Wolves as it was referring to us and others in terms of advertising revenue.

            Also, football goes in cycles,the current ‘global’ brands are arguably lucky that the EPL went global while it was their cycle! Perhaps if things had exploded 30 years ago, it would be a different set of teams with the monopoly on success. There are plenty of clubs who were equal size as Man Utd, and far bigger than Chelsea who missed out on that pot of gold!

            Arguably money has slowed down the cycle of success, but I still think it rolls on, and eventually the money bubble we are in at the moment will burst. That could really shake things up.

            Finally on Wolves, and the Gaffer, this might be worth a mention in a future article. We are the only club to have won a league championship in the USA. We (the Wolves squad travelled out and played while it was off-season in England) won the league in the states as the Los Angeles Wolves, the year before the NASL was founded.


          4. I don’t agree with everything you’re saying but I’ll admit your understanding of football is impressive. Most football fans are idiots they hang onto what everybody else is saying so they feel they can fit in. Walk onto any modern forum and some lowlife bootlicker will show up kissing the ass of somebody else.. like I said I don’t agree with everything you are saying and I still refute your day-tripper thoughts but I give credit where its due.. you know what your talking about here and most don’t.

            I know as a United fan this is not going to come as a surprise but I do worry about the bubble bursting. I think when these clubs got a foothold in a sport that suddenly started generating copious amounts of money they sort of got into the game at the right time and used that money to improve their squads and build a more global brand.

            I do worry and wonder about what will happen though I mean if the bubble bursts where would that leave some of the players demanding higher salaries? Would they just leave to another league and what about international competition?

            Before I disappear to get some sleep(busy week ahead) I want to apologise for calling you an idiot earlier on I went a little too far over some petty debate. I’m sorry. Catch you on Saturday EPLtalk!

  14. This concept reminds me a lot of the Japanese ads that started to spring up around Yankee Stadium after Matsui was signed. I watch quite a bit of EPL, and I have to say I’ve never ate a Pukka Pie, never needed industrial amounts of Rainham Steel or some glass company.

    Do you think it would be possible to put in a green screen in place of the advertising, and each country that was carrying the feed could sell adspace unique to the market?

    1. Erik, I’m surprised that the green screen technology or something similar hasn’t been introduced yet. But with the green screens, it’s going to be tough for clubs like Yeovil, Hibs and Plymouth who would magically disappear when they ran across the screen in their green kits.

      The Gaffer

  15. @Tyson and Toms arguments

    Wolves are indeed a big club based on their history and size of their fanbase.

    I am dissapointed that you said wolves arent as big as man united and chelsea. Yes obviously they are not as big as UTD or Liverpool or maybe even arsenal Villa or Everton. However Chelsea are a multimillionaires plaything and werent a massive club before that happened

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