June 4, 2020

Now is the time for the big leagues to start relaxing their philosophy on shirt sponsorship.

Roger Duthie, sponsorship consultant, believes it's about time for sports to give something back to the sponsors.

Given the situation the world is in at the moment with the uncertainty of sports and fans returning to watch live sport, I would assert that if there was ever a time for the PGA, NHL, MLB and the mighty NFL to start allowing for shirt sponsorships of some sort, the time is now.

What better way to engage with sponsors who are nervous about the future of their sponsorships than to provide added value for them? This would enable the leagues to generate new revenue streams as most events will now be viewed on TV or online rather than in person for the remainder of their seasons.

When sport does come back, and it will, the TV viewing figures will be huge, so why not give current sponsors added value and new sponsors something unique? Current sponsors could trade in and carve out certain rights that they are currently losing on hospitality or on site activation in return for player branding. This could be a short-term fix and as well as a long-term solution. The contract situation between sponsors and rights-holders will now be complicated but rights holders could actually alleviate some of the mess in North America by allowing this initiative.

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Roger Duthie helped build Emirates Airline into one of the world’s most high-profile sponsors of sports, arts and cultural events.