It is no secret that the ongoing pandemic has caused a lot of issues for companies and industries all over the world. This is true almost across the board, regardless of which sector we are talking about. In terms of sports, most teams, leagues and tournaments have lost huge amounts of revenue this year due to the various lockdowns that were in place, which prevented any live sports from taking place almost all over the world for 2-3 months. Even now, with sports having largely resumed, it is still a challenge, since fans are still not allowed back in, or only so in very restricted numbers. Thus, it has been quite a challenge financially for teams and leagues this year, and the smaller sports and their competitions have been struggling more than the rest.
The National Hockey League (NHL) is a good example of this. The NHL has been looking for new ways to bring in revenue in the face of the pandemic, and is in a very different place as compared to other major sports leagues in North America. There are some interesting proposals being put forward to try and get the league to bring in more money – for example, the Seattle Kraken franchise paying half of their entry fee now, or extending the postseason to get more games in. However, one of the easiest ways to help at the moment is to include advertising on jerseys. Of course, it has long been a tradition to not have any sponsorships or advertising on team jerseys in the NHL, but these are extraordinary times, and so it may be necessary to do away with tradition and convention to save the league this year.
Other sports do not have any qualms in having sponsors on their jerseys. Football/soccer is the biggest example, where teams in the biggest leagues earn hundreds of millions through their sponsorship deals to have jersey sponsors. They have even begun to break up jerseys into parts for these deals, with a sleeve patch sponsor and a main sponsor, for example, to have even more revenue coming in. Gambling companies, in particular, see a lot of value in such deals, especially if they offer sports betting as well, and it is no surprise to see online casino
At the moment, bringing in money is all that matters, so if it needs to break a tradition while doing so, that is the price to pay for being able to put up a tournament this season. There are examples from sports in North America itself as well – NBA teams are raking in millions from jersey sponsorships. The Golden State Warriors, for example, are being paid $20 million per year for three years for just having a Rakuten logo on the upper left chest of their jerseys. While the numbers themselves will certainly be lower for the NHL, they would still be significant enough to allow the 2020-21 season to get off the ground. It is therefore important to find the right partners and sponsors, and also make sure that this does not end up making jerseys look like an eyesore, since that will have the reverse effect on merchandise sales. Nevertheless, including jersey sponsorships looks like the easiest way to help finance this season, even though they are not universally accepted, and it could take some time to bring fans around to the idea.