A brief history of soccer shirt sponsors going bust

This week, the Swiss central bank’s decision to
scrap its cap on the value of the franc put a few
unfortunate firms out of business ( http://qz.com/328084/the-early-carnage-from-switzerlands-currency-chaos/ ) —including the
currency dealer, Alpari ( http://www.alpari.com/company-news/posts/2015/january/important-announcement/ ) , which is the principal sponsor
for Premier League soccer club West Ham United:

Worse, it seems that this plucky club from the
East End of London are magnets for insolvent
sponsors. In 2008, their main shirt sponsor, the
holiday firm XL, collapsed during the financial
crisis ( http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/west-ham-lose-1638m-sponsorship-deal-928780.html ) ,
owing the club £8 million ($12 million):

For a time, the players even had to play with the
logo covered up. It is unclear if West Ham will
have a short sponsor on their chests when they
play tomorrow:

And one-time shirt sponsor, Dr Martens, narrowly
avoided bankruptc ( http://www.theguardian.com/business/blog/2015/jan/16/west-ham-united-faced-empty-chests-shirt-sponsor-alpari-bust ) y in 2002:

West Ham’s owner at the time was
Iceland’s Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, chair of his
country’s biggest bank, who lost all his wealth
when the bank was nationalized during
Ireland’s economic collapse. Gudmundsson was
declared personally bankrupt in 2009 ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/5956509/Icelandic-bank-chief-in-500m-of-hot-water.html ) .

The financial crisis claimed a few more shirt
sponsors of some of the most-watched teams in
world soccer. Newcastle was sponsored by
Northern Rock, which collapsed in February 2008
( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7249575.stm ) after the first run on a
British bank in more than a century:

And Manchester United were sponsored by insurer
AIG, which was nationalized by the US Federal
Reserve ( http://www.marketwatch.com/story/aig-nationalized-as-insurer-signs-up-for-85-billion-fed-loan ) in September 2008 to the tune
of $85 billion. (Memes going around at the time
replaced the letters “AIG” on the United kit with

This meant, for a time, two teams met in England
whose primary sponsors were the British Treasury
and the US central bank, respectively. Newcastle
is now sponsored by Wonga, a highly-
controversial payday lender ( http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/14/wonga-agrees-drop-logo-newcastle-united-childrens-football-kits ) of small amounts of
money to poor people at really high interest rates.
And lest we make out that it is just English teams
that suffer from this curse, in 2006, Real Madrid’s
sponsor BenQ went bust just past a year into a
five-year deal ( http://www.theguardian.com/football/2008/sep/30/westhamunited.realmadrid ) .

And BenQ was replaced as Real Madrid’s shirt
sponsor straight away by Bwin, a sports betting
company. Of course they were.

Author : Kabir Chibber

URL : http://qz.com/328714/a-brief-history-of-soccer-shirt-sponsors-going-bust/


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