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Nike, Adidas bet big on World Cup football shirts

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When England and Spain meet in the World Cup final on Sunday, millions of football fans will be glued to their televisions. Many will gamble on the outcome. But for companies like Nike and Adidas, there’s a whole other bet playing out: whether they made enough merchandise to satisfy the euphoric demand from fans of the winning team.

The companies decided months ago how many replica and authentic jerseys to manufacture for each of the women’s teams. Those decisions were based on a combination of historical shopping patterns for each country, conversations with retail partners and a fair bit of conjecture. Getting the picture wrong can have real consequences — both in terms of lost sales and angered fans.

“There is no formula for it — I wish there was,” Bjorn Gulden, chief executive officer of Adidas, said of the process for forecasting demand. “If there was someone who knew that, that person would be hired immediately.”

For this year’s Women’s World Cup, the stakes are particularly high. This is the first time the tournament has featured 32 teams and the prize money is triple what it was in 2019. Adidas, Nike and Puma have invested more than ever into marketing and outfitting some of the players. Globally, interest appears to be at an all-time high.

Now, for the wrinkle that nobody could have predicted: many of the tournament favorites, including every country that’s ever won the Women’s World Cup before, has already been eliminated.

Too many, too few

There are two ways to misjudge demand. If you produce too much of a country’s jerseys, it could take months to work through all that excess inventory (perhaps leading to steep markdowns in price.) That’s what Puma had to do twice in recent years after Italy’s men’s football team failed to even qualify for the World Cup.

The other mistake — the real sin in the eyes of fans — is when you don’t produce enough of a particular jersey. Puma experienced that too, when it failed to order enough Manchester City jerseys in time for a swell in demand after the Abu Dhabi majority-owned club won England’s so-called “treble” — the Premier League title, the FA Cup and Europe’s Champions League — over a few weeks this spring.

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“Demand was significantly higher than what we have anticipated,” Puma CEO Arne Freundt acknowledged. “That was an opportunity for us to re-order and reproduce.”

It may have also cost Puma money. That’s because when a team wins a big title — or a high-profile player does something remarkable, like shocking the world by changing teams — it tends to create a massive spike in demand for jerseys that lasts for just a few days, according to Doug Mack, CEO of Fanatics Commerce.

If you can’t meet that demand right away, chances are you’ll lose potential business as disappointed fans give up and move on with their lives.

“That first 72 hours is a disproportionately interesting selling opportunity,” Mack said in an interview.

Seeing the future

There are ways to satisfy fans, nonetheless. Merchandise companies often flood the market with easily stockpiled items that only require a little final printing work or other touches — such as novelty championship hats, T-shirts and other collectibles. Uniforms, however, typically require more lead time to manufacture properly, which often forces brands to place new orders with factories that may not have much capacity at the time.

To hedge against such risks, companies such as Fanatics have experimented with new ways of predicting demand. A newcomer to the sports merchandise world, Fanatics runs, among other things, the e-commerce stores for all sorts of professional leagues and sports federations. It also licenses Nike’s Swoosh to produce the fan replica and authentic jerseys for, among other things, the National Football League.

This past spring, it leveraged its professional football contacts to create a model predicting the probability that superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers would get traded to the New York Jets, as rumored at the time.

As the odds got better, in Fanatics’ eyes, it ordered up a huge stockpile of blank Jets jerseys. That came in handy when the trade actually happened, since Rodgers became the most popular jersey, selling more than the next nine players combined, according to the company. “All we had to do after the trade is finish the jerseys with his name and number,” Mack said.

It’s not always so easy. Take the case of Lionel Messi announcing his plans in early June to sign with Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami. On paper, this should have been a slam dunk for Adidas, which has had an endorsement deal with Messi for more than a decade and which outfits every team in the MLS.

Yet there were a couple of challenges. Until late in the process, Messi was also rumored to be considering signing again with Barcelona, his old club, or even a team in Saudi Arabia. The other problem: Inter Miami’s uniforms are bright pink.

As a result, fans in mid-August are still required to “pre-order” Messi’s Miami jersey from Adidas, which is scrambling to ratchet up supplies.

“Miami is playing in a color that is not normally very commercial to have on stock, so we didn’t really have that much of the material,” Adidas boss Gulden explained. “I can assure you that both factories and aircrafts and whatever we can use has been used to fulfill that demand.”

Underdogs

Companies risk becoming punching bags when they’re caught off guard. England’s Mary Earps has taken Nike to task for not making fan versions of women’s goalkeeper jerseys (Adidas also doesn’t make these.) Meanwhile, Adidas has been criticized for not making versions of the women’s World Cup uniforms in men’s sizes, Gulden said.

Then there are the usual challenges with big tournaments. As ever, there have been some high-profile upsets, with Germany exiting in the first round (sorry, Adidas) and the US getting eliminated early in the knockout stage (sorry, Nike).

While that could leave these companies with more merchandise than fans want, it’s not necessarily bad for the sport. When the same teams win over and over, their fans don’t necessarily go crazy with enthusiasm, Mack says. When an underdog wins, though, it can create rare levels of excitement.

As it turned out, each of the two big sportswear makers ended up with a team in the final: Nike sponsors England, while Adidas sponsors Spain.

“First-time champions do incredibly well,” Mack says. “Those fan bases get activated.”

Bloomberg

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Victor Osimhen, Asisat Oshoala, Finidi George, Sanwo-Olu Emerge Winners at 10th Nigeria Pitch Awards

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Victor Osimhen, Napoli FC and Super Eagles forward sensation made history as he starves off competition from teammate, Victor Boniface, Robert Mizo of Bayelsa United and Emeka Obiora of Enyimba International FC to emerge the Striker of the Year and King of the Pitch for the third straight year, making him the first player to achieve this feat on the platform of the prestigious Nigeria Pitch Awards.

Asisat Oshoala, the African Football Queen was voted the Queen of the Pitch ahead of Rasheedat Ajibade of Atlético de Madrid Femenino and Chiamaka Nnadozi, the Paris FC Goalkeeper.

The Award Ceremony began with a very colourful, energetic and exciting dance from the Akwabio Cultural Group. Leading the long list of dignitaries were Ibrahim Musa Gusau, President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, the General Secretary of the Federation, CP Patrick Ateyero, the CP Sports of the Nigeria Police Force who was standing in for the Inspector-General of Police, Nigerian Ex-international and the 1997 CAF African Footballer of the Year, Victor Ikpeba, CP Waheed Ayilara, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Police, Mr Oluwadare Ojelade, a Director in SIAO Partners, Finidi George and the entire technical crew, all members of the Super Eagles present in Uyo, representives of MTN Nigeria, GTI and other nominees.

The NFF President reiterated the Federation’s support for the Nigerian Pitch Awards while hailing organizers for the transparency and credibility displayed in the award process. Speaking on Nigeria’s 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualification on the heels of the Nigeria – South Africa qualifier match played on the 7th June at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo, Ibrahim Gusau, while appealing for support and prayers, assured Nigerians of the determination of the Federation and the players to secure a World Cup slot.

Speaking on the award process, Mr Oluwadare, the SIAO representative, stated that voting for the 2023 edition of the Nigeria Pitch Awards commenced on Monday 11th December 2023 and closed on Friday 19th January 2024. ‘The results’, he noted, ‘passed through 3 levels of scrutiny: They were collated and reviewed by a team set up specifically to handle this process … A second level of verification was done by another independent unit and’ thirdly ‘Quality Control’s Arm of the firm completes the rigorous but exciting exercise’.

Organizers honoured IGP Kayode Egbetokun, the Inspector-General of Police who pioneered the introduction of football as an event in the finals of the 14th BIPOGA in Ibadan in February 2024. Also honoured were John Momoh, Chairman and CEO of Channels for the Channels Kids Cup initiative and Ibrahim Gusua, the NFF President.

In the Goalkeeper of the Year category, Ojo Olorunleke emerged winner ahead of Amas Obasogie of Bendel Insurance FC and Kayode Bankole of Remo Stars FC.

Ola Aina, Nottingham Forest FC and Super Eagles left full back was voted Defender of the Year to beat his Super Eagles teammates Calvin Bassey of Fulham FC who won it last year and Bright Osayi-Samuel, Fenerbahçe SK.

Alex Iwobi, in form Fulham FC midfielder emerged Midfielder of the Year ahead of Wilfred Ndidi, Leicester City FC defensive midfielder and Al Hassan Yusuf of Royal Antwerp FC.

Super Eagles Manager was voted the Coach of the Year 2023 for his exploits while he was Coach of Enyimba International FC where he led the team to finish top of the NPFL league.

MTN Nigeria was voted Best Corporate Sponsor of Football 2023 as the brand saw off competition from GTI Financial and Nigeria’s sports betting giant, Bet9ja.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of Lagos State was voted the Football Friendly Governor of the Year while Lagos State emerged the State with the Best Grassroots Football Development Programme in the country in 2023.

The highly competitive Sam Okwaraji Award for commitment to the development of Nigerian football for 2023 went to Hon. Kunle Soname, the chairman of Remo Stars.

 

Full Result

 

Goalkeeper of the Year

Ojo Olorunleke – Enyimba FC

 

Defender of the Year

Ola Aina – Nottingham Forest FC –

 

Midfielder of the Year

Alex Iwobi – Fulham FC

 

Striker of the Year

Victor Osimhen – Napoli FC

 

Queen of the Pitch

Asisat Oshoala – Bay FC

 

King of the Pitch

Victor Osimhen – Napoli FC

 

Team of the Year

Enyimba International FC

 

Coach of the Year

Finidi George – Enyimba FC

 

Sam Okwaraji Award

Kunle Soname – Chairman, Remo Stars

 

State with the Best Grassroots Football Development Programme

Lagos State

 

Football Pitch of the Year

Godswill Akpabio Int’l Stadium

 

Football Friendly Governor of the Year

His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu – Lagos State

 

Best Corporate Sponsor of Football Award

MTN Nigeria

 

Sportsmanship Award

Hon. Kunle Soname – Chairman, Remo Stars FC

 

Football Journalist of the Year – Print

Johnny Edward – Punch Newspapers

 

Football Journalist of the Year – Tv

Mozez Praiz – Supersport

 

Football Journalist of the Year – Radio

Anthony Bekederemo – Brila 88.9 FM

 

Football Journalist of the Year – Online

Tobi Adepoju – Oganla Media

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NLO Hits Jackpot, Set To Sign Multi-Million Naira Sponsorship Deal

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The Nationwide League One (NLO) is set to sign its largest sponsorship deal worth millions of naira and also announce a partnership with two foreign service providers.

The four (4) year sponsorship agreement breaks records and represents a major step forward for the development of grassroots football in Nigeria.

NLO Chairman and former Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Silas Agara, shared further information about the agreement with.

“We are pleased with the various brands that have shown interest in the NLO in recent months as we want the NLO to become a global phenomenon as the most successful grassroots football league in Africa, as called for by the President of the NFF, Ibrahim Musa Gusau

“One of our partners is a lottery company licensed by the Nigerian Lottery Commission; will be the LO title sponsor. We have signed a sponsorship agreement with a term of four years. And we will reveal them on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

Twenty-four hours later, exactly on Friday, March 15, the NLO will present four of its possible partners.

“One of them is a service provider: a sports tracking platform based in Croatia with more than 25 million monthly active users worldwide. This is very good for our clubs. They have also directed the NLO to help them integrate other leagues in Nigeria.

“This is not about any monetary value, but about sharing the benefits of the development of our league and we have agreed to work with them.”

However, there is another IT company that has agreed to develop websites for all NLO clubs. They will also open social media channels for all clubs.

“They will train club officials to manage the websites and then market the website and social media so that clubs can generate funds to support their clubs.”

“The NLO sees this as a good avenue for club development and another source of income for NLO clubs.”

Agara further hinted: “Two more technical partners will join NLO as they will help facilitate talent discovery through the use of technology.

“The country’s third-tier national football league sees them as a development partner, and we have agreed to give them access to our data. The benefits for NLO are the revenue share from selling the data, we have a device that allows us to monitor what we see.”

In order to expand its reach to a wider audience and passionate fans of the league, NLO has in a separate development launched its two (2) channels on Blend TV.

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Manchester United national stadium plan backed

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A vision for a new Manchester United ground that could double as a ‘Wembley of the North’ has been welcomed by council chiefs.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a co-owner of the club, has outlined his preference to replace Old Trafford with a ground that could be used as a national venue.

Trafford Council welcomed the proposal as part of its plans to regenerate the wider Trafford Wharf area.

But councillor Liz Patel said it would be up the club to fund a new stadium.

The club’s plans are a key element of Trafford Council’s Wharfside Development plans, which will go out to public consultation next week.

New stadium developments at Tottenham, Everton, and Manchester City have been highlighted by the council as good examples of how to regenerate an area and keep fans there for longer on match days.

Sir Jim told BBC sports editor Dan Roan that the 74,310-capacity Old Trafford had become “tired and in need of refurbishment”.

He said any plan to build a new stadium that could also be used as a national ground would require a “conversation” with the government about using taxpayer funds.

‘Great ambition’

Ms Patel, who is leading the council’s redevelopment plans, said a ‘Wembley of the North’ proposal “would be wonderful”.

“That is great ambition from Jim Ratcliffe and these plans match that in terms of the setting and the future of the area,” she said.

A new stadium built on adjacent land could cost around £2bn.

Ms Patel said the council would look for investment for the Wharfside plans, and “saw a role” for the council in “leading, guiding and securing” the funding.

“How United get together the finances for their own stadium refurbishment would be separate,” she said.

At a meeting of the council’s executive on Monday night, Ms Patel earned cross-party support for the regeneration plans, which could take up to 20 years realise.

She said Trafford Council had worked with Manchester United’s planning team to design improvements in the area for fans as part of the masterplan.

“We want to create a much more family-friendly space where people want to stay longer and have processional routes so it’s a lot safer for fans arriving on foot from tram stops or walking out from the city centre – as sometimes happens in European matches.”

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