10 car companies which sponsor or own football clubs

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
United’s new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan beside a Chevrolet Camaro

In a world where money is king, sponsorship deals are among the top revenue earners for football clubs, and a few car manufacturing companies have gotten in on the action, as they too stand to make huge profits from these partnerships.

A select few of those actually own football clubs or have a stake, but for the most part, car manufacturing companies act as sponsors, either main or secondary partners who supply vehicles, provide transportation and various other perks.

Here is a list of 10 car companies which presently sponsor football clubs around Europe.

#1 Citroen – Arsenal

Arsenal Citroen
Arsenal players stand next to the Citroen C4 Cactus (Image Courtesy: Carscoops)

London side Arsenal and French car manufacturer Citroen have been in partnership since 2008, and the two parties agreed a three-year extension back in 2014.

While not the main sponsor, Citroen have a huge presence at the club. They have a programme in place to deal with marketing, digital, dealer and promotional activities, and provide Arsenal with various car models for their coaches and staff as part of the deal.

The car company also takes care of transporting team equipment across England, and also supporting the club’s community outreach programmes.

At the moment, Arsenal’s main sponsors are Fly Emirates and Puma, with other sponsors include the likes of Gatorade, BT Sport and Coopertires.

#2 Opel – FSV Mainz

Opel Arena
Mainz’s home ground was renamed as Opel Arena

The German automobile company, based in Russelheim, has been actively involved in the sponsorship of German clubs since 2012 and has Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and SC Freiburg on their list.

FSV Mainz, also a partner, have named their home stadium the Opel Arena, agreeing the name change earlier this year. The stadium was previously called the Coface Arena because of the club’s sponsorship deal with French credit insurer Coface.

On revealing the new name change, Opel and Mainz announced a further five years which will take their deal up to 2021. Aside from the naming rights, the partnership is inclusive of extensive package of promotional and hospitality services.

#3 Mercedes-Benz – VFB Stuttgart

VfB Stuttgart v SpVgg Greuther Fuerth - Second Bundesliga : News Photo
Stuttgart’s shirt sponsor is Mercedes-Benz Bank and their home stadium is the Mercedes-Benz Arena

Mercedes-Benz is one of the premier brands on this list. The global automobile manufacturing company is a division of German company Daimler AG.

Known for their luxurious line of cars, as well as buses, coaches and trucks, Mercedes-Benz are also the main sponsors of German outfit VFB Stuttgart. The club’s stadium is also called the Mercedes-Benz Arena, and it is in close proximity to the car maker’s factory and museum.

Previously known as the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion, the name change came about in 2008, and the Mercedes-Benz Bank became the club’s leading sponsor in 2012.

The two parties agreed to an extension before the end of last season, despite the club set for relegation from the Bundesliga. They did get knocked out of the German top flight, but their partnership with Mercedes-Benz will run until 2019.

#4 Jeep – Juventus

Empoli FC v Juventus FC - Serie A : News Photo
Club record signing Gonzalo Higuain

Jeep have been Juventus’ main sponsor for the past four years. The American SUV company forged a partnership with the Italian side in 2012, replacing Betclic as their official shirt sponsor.

The two parties agreed a six-year extension in August of 2014, which took the initial pay-out of €11.7 million per season to €17 million.

Jeep are owned by the Chrysler Group, who were bought by Fiat in 2009. Both Juventus and Fiat are owned by the Exor group of families and controlled by the family of club president Andrea Agnelli.

Juve also have a $26 million-a-year deal with sportswear brand Nike. They have also been one of Europe’s most successful teams in recent times, and have been dominating the Serie A in Italy for the past five seasons.

#5 Hyundai – Lyon

French club Lyon are sponsored by Korean car company Hyundai

Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais are sponsored by South Korean automotive manufacturer Hyundai, and have been displaying the company’s logo on their jerseys since 2012.

Hyundai replaced Betclic as the French club’s sponsors but reportedly agreed to pay €2 million less than the €7 million Lyon had received yearly from their previous sponsor.

Lyon have seen great success in France and won the Ligue 1 title for seven consecutive years, from the 2001/02 season to the 2007/08 season, and have also won the Coup de France five times.

In Europe, Lyon reached the UEFA Champions League semi-final in the 2009/10 season, and reached the quarter-final stage on three occasions.

#6 Volkswagen – VFL Wolfsburg

VfL Wolfsburg v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga : News Photo
Julian Draxler – a key player for the German club

Bundesliga club Wolfsburg are not just sponsored by Volkswagen, they’re also wholly owned by the German automobile manufacturing company, who have been their main contributors since the 1950’s.

Wolfsburg have been largely overshadowed by the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund over the years, and only have one Bundesliga title to show for their 78 years of existence.

It doesn’t look like they’ll be adding to that this season either, as they are currently in 13th place with six points from six games on the league table, having won just one match so far.

Despite their lack of success in Germany, they are very well funded. It is believed that Volkswagen inject over €100 million into the club on a yearly basis, and they paid €30 million in sponsorship fees for the 2015/16 season, which is the same figure Bayern Munich received from their sponsors Telekom, and more than the €20 Dortmund got.

Volkswagen also sponsors four other clubs in Germany - Hannover 96, Werder Bremen, Schalke 04 and 1860 Munich.

#7 BMW – Eintracht Frankfurt

VfL Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt - Bundesliga : News Photo
Frankfurt were earlier sponsored by Italian carmaker Alfa Romeo

The German luxury vehicle manufacturing company replaced Alfa Romeo as Eintracht Frankfurt’s official automotive partner in August.

BMW, German for Bavarian Motor Works, is one of the world’s most recognised car brands and had sponsored the club between 2008 and 2013, before being replaced by Alfa Romeo, the company they in turn replaced.

They have several BMW mini dealerships around Frankfurt and stand to benefit from pitch-side advertising at the Commerzbank Arena, which is the club’s home ground.

The deal was announced ahead of the 2016/17 season ond a one-year contract.

#8 Audi – Bayern Munich

FC Bayern Muenchen New Car Handover : News Photo
Manager Carlo Ancelotti and captain Philippe Lahm at an Audi event

German car maker Audi have a long-standing deal with Bayern Munich. The luxury car maker has been partners with the Bundesliga champions since 2002, and also own an 8.33 per cent stake in the club.

The company, based in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, pays around €10M yearly as part of the deal.

The two parties agreed on a contract extension last year, and the deal will run until June of 2025. Audi also has a deal in place with the club, which obliges them to hand out their latest automobiles to the players before the beginning of every season.

#9 Dacia – Udinese

Udinese Calcio v SS Lazio - Serie A : News Photo
Udinese’s partnership with Dacia began in 2009

Dacia, the Romanian automotive company has been in partnership with Italian club Udinese since early 2009.

Dacia are a subsidiary of Renault, a French multinational car manufacturer, and are also Romania’s biggest revenue earners, as well as the country’s top exporter.

Udinese sold their stadium naming rights to the car company in January this year, changing the name of their 25,000-seater Stadio Friuli to the Dacia Arena Friuli.

The club also agreed to an extension earlier this year, which will see the partnership last until 2020.

Other Udinese sponsors include Mediaset Premium, Benpower and Sky Gas & Power.

#10 Chevrolet - Manchester United

Manchester United v Leicester City - Premier League : News Photo
World record signing Paul Pogba wearing the United jersey once again

Manchester United are sponsored by Chevrolet, a US-based automobile company operating as a division of manufacturer General Motors.

The Red Devils struck a deal with Chevy in 2012, after ending their agreement with previous sponsors AON. The deal is worth £350 million and will be paid out over the course of seven seasons.

Two years ago, the Daily Mail ran a story which claimed that United’s star players had refused to drive vehicles provided by Chevy after the sponsors had handed the club a fleet of 15 vehicles.

The company had hoped to gain some publicity off the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao, but the players drove their own vehicles, leaving training ground staff to make use of the freebies.

United are also sponsored by Adidas, who pay them $107 million every year.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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