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How Celtic’s many sponsors keep them top of the pile

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When it comes to Scottish football, two teams leave the others far behind in terms of size and revenue – Celtic and Rangers. And, lately, the Hoops have been leading the pack in pretty much every way.

Not only do they have a trophy cabinet overflowing with awards from the club’s 131-year history, they have the revenue to match. Last season was a record year for Celtic when not only did they make it into the top 50 of clubs in the Deloitte Football Money League, they also generated £101.6 million of revenue. While this is nowhere near the revenue of Manchester United, the Premier League’s richest club, it does make the club big news – and hugely appealing for sponsors who want to be associated with the Celtic brand.

This is why, for the 2018/19 season, the club has no less than 20 different sponsors covering a wide range of sectors and helping to generate major amounts of income to add to the ticket and merchandise earnings that contribute to what may be another record-breaking year for ‘the Invincibles’.

Biggest-ever shirt sponsorship deal

Without doubt, the most prominent of any club sponsor is the brand emblazoned on the team’s shirts. Replica strips are worn by millions of fans across the world – and this is brand exposure you can bank on, particularly in a digital marketing landscape overrun with multiple channels and platforms.

The benefits to both club and sponsor are clear: the money gets funnelled into Celtic’s transfer budget, and in turn, the brand gets its name in front of a global audience.

Just before the start of the 2018/19 season, Celtic announced their biggest-ever shirt sponsorship deal with an online betting partner. A seven-year deal was signed with an online sports betting firm. While the specific value of the partnership has not been made public, it’s likely to be a seven-figure sum, given recent trends.

Celtic’s links with online gaming

Celtic also have further links with brands in the online gaming world. In fact, they are one of the only clubs to have an Official Casino Partner. This takes the sponsorship away from purely sports betting and into a far broader leisure-related sphere.

Due to this online gaming site’s connections with the club, more Celtic fans may choose to play there if they ever fancy a game of roulette, poker or blackjack. And this comes at a time when online gambling is more popular than ever, an increasing number of players choosing to play their favourite casino games on their mobile or desktop PC. One third of the total UK gambling revenue now comes from online.

The reasons are clear, as today’s online casinos are better, faster and more engaging than ever. Hundreds of games can be played from the comfort of the player’s own homes, or if they’re on the move, via their mobile device. If you check one of the UK’s leading operators, you’ll see just how entertaining and convenient playing at this remarkable online casino can be in 2019.

Of course, this announcement was a continuation of Celtic’s roots in the online casino world. The club also has its own themed slot game gamers have been playing for years.

It remains to be seen whether more clubs will take on Official Casino Partners. After all, their target audiences are broadly similar – making the link-up more natural than, say, football clubs and insurance firms.

Sponsors in the broadcasting, tailoring and drinks industries

But what about Celtic’s other sponsors away from the world of gambling? As we’ve said, they cover a wide range of sectors, like many football clubs.

For example, broadcasters Sky Sports, BT Sport and local radio station Clyde 1 all support the club by broadcasting games to their viewers. In a world where football debate has never been so detailed, or so fevered, about all aspects of the game, sponsoring a club is always going to mean privileged access for broadcasters to news, interviews and other up to the minute information.

These days, football is part of a far wider leisure experience – so there are a number of sponsors covering all aspects of this too. These range from huge global brands like Coca-Cola to smaller ones like vaping company VPZ – proof that you don’t necessarily need a huge budget to get on the Celtic sponsorship roster.

Alcoholic drinks producers also get a look in with both Magners cider and St Andrews Eden Mill Distillery & Brewery joining the line-up. Again this shows how there are plenty of opportunities for more brands to become involved with Scotland’s biggest football club.

To counterbalance these kinds of sponsors there are also a number of more sports and health related ones, too. Naturally, kit suppliers New Balance are on the list and so are Science In Sport. The latter supply sports nutrition and supplements and their brand standing is undoubtedly enhanced by the connection. There’s also the gym equipment suppliers Primal Strength who are also enjoying similar advantages.

It’s fair to say that the club have been wide ranging in the other sectors that they sought sponsorship from including high end tailoring from Jim Forbes as well as car leasing company Intelligent Car Leasing.

All of these, in turn, enjoy far more benefits from their association with Celtic FC than simply getting their names in front of fans. As part of the deal they will have access to sponsor’s hospitality at all home games, where they can reward staff and entertain clients. They will also be in a great position to offer Celtic related prizes in their own promotions.

Summary

Far from being the relatively unimportant part of a company’s marketing that it used to be, sponsorship’s undoubtedly big business, especially for a huge club like Celtic FC. Like everything in sport, Celtic’s relationship with sponsors is a vicious cycle. The more sponsors on their roster, the more cash it has to fund transfers – and the more successful becomes, the greater the number of sponsors it will attract.

And given how many brands are associated with the club compared to others, the Hoops can look forward to many more years of domination in Scottish football.

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