History of Football Shirt Sponsors!

(Posted on 01/03/16)

History of Football Shirt Sponsors!
The 1970’s, a golden time when shorts were short and hair was long, football thrived with Liverpool ruling the roost in England, it all seems so long ago doesn’t it?

There’s a reason that these times are so nostalgic, quite simply put it was the following decade that began to change the game. All of the sudden as the 80’s rolled by, sponsorship crept in to the game.

For many of football’s old school this was criminal, however many saw the game as a big opportunity. As much as we scream for modern football to slow down just a little bit, we have to admire some of those who absolutely defined recent times. 

In 2016, money brings success, and success brings supporters, as soon as you’ve brought yourself into that cycle you don’t normally fall out of the bracket, and if you do, well, good luck to you.

It’s a common misconception that Liverpool were the first club in the country to have a shirt sponsor from Hitachi, but I put it to you sir that it was in fact Southern Premier League side Kettering Town in 1976. 

Did it eventually bring the Poppies great success? Well, no. Kettering have made it as far as the National League, however in 2013 the club were close to liquidation and demoted from the ‘Vanarama Pyramid’.  It seems that "four figure" fee in 1976 from the great ‘Kettering Tyres’ wouldn’t pay off in the end. 

As mentioned though, Hitachi were the first sponsors of a great Liverpool side, followed by a string of defining sponsors, including Candy, Crown Paints and Carlsberg. The latter was used for over a decade and saw players from John Barnes, Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler to Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen. 

Owen’s finest Liverpool moment of course came in the Carlsberg sponsored attire, scoring the winner against Arsenal in the 2001 FA Cup Final, you can pick up one of his shirts right here, a classic Reebok design which also saw them pick up the 2001 UEFA Cup and League Cup in the same season, a real piece of history.

Hopping across to Manchester, the 90’s were amazing times for the northern city. Oasis, the Stone Roses and a Champions League win! Manchester City fans had it rough however just days after United’s amazing win against Bayern in the final, City would be promoted from Division Three in the play-offs, the decade was magic for the place. 

When you think of iconic sponsors, Sharp always come to mind, the classic Umbro design was defined by the main sponsor, which was worn as United picked up the treble in 1999. Not just that, the class of 92’s formative years were spent with it, David Beckham’s goal against Wimbledon from half-way see’s him celebrate with those letters across his chest, magic.  Used in the eighties and nineties, we’ve a huge selection of kits, which will warm the heart of any fan; the nostalgia of Mark Hughes, Paul Scholes, Paul Ince, Teddy Sheringham and co is almost to much to bare. If you love different colours and concoctions, look no further than the 1992/1993 goalkeeper shirts.

The noughties brought some beauties in, many remaining from the 90’s, Newcastle Brown Ale and Holston for example. Spurs didn’t have too much luck with Holston, spending the majority of their time at mid-table before switching as they enjoyed their second spell as sponsors from 1999-2002. 

The first spell lasted from 1983 until 1995, seeing the club win the 1991 FA Cup, affirming that Spurs are likely to win the cup when the year ends with the number one (1901,  1921, 1961, 1981 and 1991). Of course the Arsenal side they beat were flying the flag for JVC, in a real purple patch for the Gunners, seeing Premiership wins with the likes of Henry, Bergkamp, Adams and Wright. 

Across the Irish sea we saw Eircom sponsoring the Republic of Ireland as they made their way to World Cup 2002. Mick McCarthy was in charge and Roy Keane managed to get himself sent home as the Irish battled it out in Korea/Japan.  As ROI finished second behind Germany in the group, before crashing out on penalties to Spain. For the best part though, Opel were the side’s sponsors, in a difficult period for the Irish with troubles in many parts, however football was an escape for many who were witnessing it. One of our personal favourites is the 1992/1994 adidas design, in excellent condition with a beautiful design. 

We finish with Commodore, sponsors of Bayern Munich as they reached the European Cup Final in 1987.  A disappointing defeat to Porto in the final, especially as 12 years earlier Bayern had won three European Cups on the trot from 1974-1976.

So, sponsors now are worth hundreds of millions of pounds, however it doesn’t always bring success, it may have done for the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, but always remember little old Kettering Town.