By Ogova Ondego
Published March 31, 2016
Barclays Bank of Britain shall no longer sponsor the English Premier League (EPL) after May 15, 2016 when the current season ends.
Though the PL broadcasts into an estimated 650 million homes in 175 countries and Barclays has used it to promote itself throughout the world over the past 12 years, the bank says that promotion has ‘zero value’ in the United Kingdom, its base. It is for this reason that Barclays shall from August 13, 2016—the date the 2016-2017 season kicks off—part ways with EPL.
The top English professional football league shall in its 25th (2016-2017) season drop ‘Barclays’ from its name and simply be known as the Premier League (PL). It has since 2004 been known as Barclays Premier League. The new logo of the championship shall be a crowned lion’s head accompanied by either the words Premier League or initials PL. Barclays Bank’s logo—the lion with its left paw on a football—that has been synonymous with the world’s richest football championship, has been replaced.
But why has Barclays dropped its £40 Million-a-year title sponsorship to EPL?
Analysts point to the fact that the British bank that has had a lackluster performance in its core business—money-making—since 2014 could be apprehensive over being asked to pay ever more for the title sponsorship in the face of Sky and BT Sport paying a record £5.14 Billion for domestic TV rights from the start of the 2016-2017 season. Barclays had in 2012 signed a £120 Million three-year deal for the rights that expire in May 2016; this was a generous increase on their previous £82 Million contract.
Could the decision for Barclays to exit the African market in 2016 that could have informed it against continued sponsorship of EPL, a football league that, across Africa, is followed with almost religious fervour and devotion?
Put another way: Could the move have been initiated by EPL itself; just for the desire to emulate US American sports leagues in case of presenting a ‘clean’ brand image? But what can’t be ruled out is the desire for reaping more from the sale of overseas TV rights for the period 2016-2019 that, writes Taiti Anthony on wabtechonline.com, is “expected to add around a further £3 billion to the pot” of the championship “with 17 of its clubs featuring in the top 30 of financial consultants Deloitte’s most recent football rich list.”
Richard Masters, Managing Director of PL, simply says, “From next season we will move away from title sponsorship and the competition will be known as the Premier League, a decision which provided the opportunity to consider how we wanted to present ourselves as an organisation and competition.”
EPL—that operated without a title sponsor in the inaugural 1992-1993 season—says its re-branding will not stop individual clubs from pursuing their own separate commercial models.
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Notable title sponsors of PL that began in 1992 have been a Canadian brewery known as Carling (1993-1997), Barclaycard (2001-2004) and Barclays Bank (2004-16).