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Puma adds CAF to growing ball supplier portfolio

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Sporting goods company Puma has continued its aggressive ball supplier acquisition strategy by signing as the official technical partner of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

The agreement starts in November 2023 and will see Puma supply the official match ball at CAF tournaments, including the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Ivory Coast. It will also provide the kit for referees and hold marketing rights inside and outside the host venues.

Puma takes over the CAF ball supplier rights from Umbro, which held the equivalent rights at both the 2019 and 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

While the CAF agreement is Puma’s only ball supplier deal at continental federation level, it comes in the wake of numerous deals at national league level, reflecting Puma’s commitment to its football business.

Puma has been the ball supplier to Spain’s LaLiga since the 2019-20 season and became the official match ball supplier for the English Football League, which represent the three tiers of professional football below the Premier League, from 2021-22. The latter deal was extended to the end of the 2026-27 season last month.

Puma also holds the official match ball provider rights to the Italian football league Serie A, starting from the 2022-23 season, and this year become the new official match ball provider to the Scottish Professional Football League and the Scottish Women’s Premier League from the 2023-24 season.

In June, Puma agreed a long-term deal to become the new official ball supplier to Liga Portugal, from the 2023-24 season, while a report in The Athletic indicated that Puma was set to take over from Nike as the Premier League‘s official match ball supplier after the 2024-25 season.

The company has not referred to its ball supplier acquisitions in recent quarterly reports. However, it is indicative of a wider ‘brand elevation’ strategy in football.

Puma chief executive Arne Freundt said in in a recent analysts call following its fiscal 2023 interim results that only six years ago Puma held a mid-single [digit percentage] market share in the football boot market. In Europe, he said, “We are now trending somewhere around 16 to 18 per cent of market share. And that was a market which was dominated only by two brands [Nike and Adidas].”

Puma has a long history of supporting African national teams and recently supplied kit for the Morocco team that reached the 2022 World Cup semi-finals.

Earlier this week, the IMG agency was selected by CAF to sell sponsorship packages to its major competitions until 2025 following a recent Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

In April, CAF began its search for a global sponsorship sales agency when it issued an RFP process coverings its competitions across the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons.

Historically, CAF’s media and sponsorship rights were sold by Lagardère Sports – now known as Sportfive – but the governing body cancelled its 12-year, $1bn (€950m) contract with the agency in 2019. The deal had been extended to 2028 before the termination.

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Marketing & Sponsorship

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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F1 Academy pens Tommy Hilfiger deal

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The all-female F1 Academy series has agreed a partnership with global lifestyle brand Tommy Hilfiger.

Contract:

  • Tommy Hilfiger will sponsor the entry of Spanish driver Nerea Martí
  • The brand will also design and provide all F1 Academy staff uniform

Context:

Tommy Hilfiger becomes the latest brand to support the upcoming season of F1 Academy, with Charlotte Tilbury and Puma already on board. There will be five designated partner liveries this season, in addition to each car supported by a Formula One team, which means there are two partnerships still to be announced.

This adds to Tommy Hilfiger’s existing partnership with the Mercedes Formula One team, first signed back in 2018, as well as its personal endorsement of Lewis Hamilton and, more recently, George Russell.

Comment:

“Tommy Hilfiger is one of the most recognised global lifestyle brands, so it is a great honour to welcome them to F1 Academy as an official partner,” said Susie Wolff, managing director of F1 Academy.

“Tommy Hilfiger is fully invested in our mission to improve female representation in motorsport, and their global brand platform will appeal to those outside of the motorsport world and help us to reach new audiences.

“I would like to personally thank Tommy and his team for sharing our vision and supporting a talented young driver in Nerea Martí.”

Coming next:

The F1 Academy season gets underway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in support of Formula One’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from 7th to 9th March.

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