Why is it becoming so difficult to find a sponsor for new football stadium?



By Tony Attwood

The impact of a new stadium on a club has been one of my favourite themes across the years of Untold not least because I think it is one of those little things that we came up with first – (and which of course everyone else has ignored ever since).

Tottenham’s new ground was opened for the 2019/20 season, having played the 2018/19 season at Wembley.   Prior to the move out of the old ground, Tottenham had finished 3rd, 2nd and 3rd in the three previous seasons.   At Wembley they finished fourth.   Since then Tottenham have finished 6th, 7th and 4th in the league.  Not quite what they wanted for a new ground.

Arsenal moved to Emirates Stadium in 2006.  In the previous eight seasons, Arsenal came top three times and second five times.   After that it was ten seasons of coming third and fourth.

Of course, not every team just goes down one or two places.  Sometimes new stadia can have quite an alarming effect…  And indeed it is not just an alarming effect for one or two clubs.


Stadium Club Built Promotion/Releg
Riverside Stadium Middlesbrough 1995 Relegated 1997
Britannia Stadium Stoke City 1997 Relegated 1998
Reebok Stadium Bolton Wanderers 1997 Relegated 1998
Pride Park Stadium Derby County 1997 Relegated 2002
Stadium of Light Sunderland 1997 Relegated 1997
Madejski Stadium Reading 1998 Releg to D3 ’98
JJB Stadium Wigan Athletic 1999 Won D3 2003
St Mary’s Stadium Southampton 2001 Relegated 2005
KC Stadium Hull City 2002 Prom from D3 2005
Walkers Stadium Leicester City 2002 Relegated 2004
Etihad Stadium Manchester City 2003 Won League 2012
Liberty Stadium Swansea City 2005 Prom D4 2005
Emirates Stadium Arsenal 2006 Top 4 to 2016
Cardiff City Stadium Cardiff City 2009 Won D2 2012
“London” Stadium WHU 2016 11th, 13th, 10th
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Tottenham Hotspur 2019 6th, 7th, 4th


Plus it is not just the form that drops.  The decline in Arsenal’s form must at least in part explain why the new Tottenham stadium not quite in White Hart Lane remains sponsorless – sponsoring a stadium has become less attractive since even Arsenal couldn’t maintain their first and second positions in the light of the new drain on their resources.

In fact, it is not just the TH Stadium that remains un-renamed.  Nearly £450,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent trying to find a sponsor for West Ham’s laughingly called “London Stadium” but without success.  After  Vodafone walked away from a £20m six-year naming rights deal in May 2017 , no one wanted to know.  And now Tottenham have the same problem. 

In fact, new stadia are clearly now associated with a decline in fortune.   Indeed one wonders what Reebok think now about having their name tagged along with Bolton.  Bolton did climb back into the Premier League after coming third in 2001, and survived through their appallingly negative rotational fouling tactics this time until 2012/13.

But then rather than crawling back to the Premier League they dropped and dropped again reaching the fourth tier of English football (League Two) in 2020.  They have since managed to return to League One largely through having Eoin Doyle score 19 goals for them in their League Two season.  He was their highest goal scorer in 20 years, and is now back playing in Ireland.

Thus it may well be that the days of sponsoring grounds are over, especially for clubs that don’t have a history of winning the league.  Which could be bad news for Tottenham Hotspur, if having a multi-million-pound sponsorship deal from the off, in the style of Arsenal, was part of the financial planning.



6 Replies to “Why is it becoming so difficult to find a sponsor for new football stadium?”

  1. Personally,would much prefer NO sponsorship names whatsoever.The Kronkes have enough Dosh not to need it & a suitable club name to the ground should be applied permanently.Speaking of which I’ve always thought the New ground should be known as “ The Armoury”.Absolutely encapsulates our great club.Wish somebody with “ influence” would make this a suggestion to the club.
    By the way there is absolutely no truth in the rumour that the spuds are going flat out to get KFC as their stadium naming rights.Though I’m sure many here would see it as perfect.

  2. Maybe the oil states and other rich and famous have decided to pay for the content (clubs) not the container (stadium)….to actually decide rather then be taken for a ride…

    That said, there definitely seems to be some ‘new stadium’ curse…. not only in the selling of the rights, as well as just building one. Maybe the utter mismanagement of football in general, the FA in particular and specifically PGMOL make people start having second thoughts about the risk/reward ratio that a PL club carries. PL used to be a play ground of the rich and they discover they can’t up the ante anymore against oil states and oligarchs. Even sports multinationals are having second thoughts.

    Add the level of graft and corruption prevalent in FIFA and UEFA, and any interested investor would have second thoughts.

    In the US, soccer is having it’s sunrise time. Did you know that in 2019, the final of the women’s WC had more spectators then this year’s NBA final or Baseball World Series final ?

    Now in 2026, the US, Canada and Mexico are hosting the WC. Once this event is over, the US Justice Department will not care about FIFA anymore and the risk they restart looking into corruption at FIFA and UEFA will grow. And any organisation associated with any transaction deemed suspicious would be at considerable risk if it has anything to do with the US. We’ve seen how the long arm of the DOJ can extend all the way to Switzerland.

    So all that, to me spells trouble for football.

    Then, one can wonder what place the US sports industry will have in the soccer world after the WC 2026. They way FIFA totally mishandled the WC in Qatar is not going to come down well with US Fortune 500 corporations when they will start to negotiate for sponsoring and advertising in 2026

  3. Chris

    I’m sure I don’t know what you mean. Listening to the crap being spouted by ITV and BBC, all in the ‘Football’ garden seems rosy.

    From all I’ve heard the tournament has been a magnificent success so far, and England played like Brazil the other night by all accounts. But not to worry, according to Southgate the ‘Lads’ can manage the expectations.

    WelI, I hope so for their sake because I expect them to be knocked out as soon as the play an actual football team.

  4. Just like to say. Whatever the problem. Best wishes to ben White.

    You don’t come home from a World Cup for nothing. I hope whatever the problem may be there is a good outcome.

  5. Looking at the Germany Costa Rica game, and thinking back on other games I saw, what I think we are seing one thing : the ‘star’ players from the major european leagues are cooked.

    I don’t believe for one second that Martinez is a bad coach or th Belgium players not good enough for last 16. But you could see : they did not have a 5th or 6h gear in them. in the german team, the younger players like Musiala are on top of it. Older ones like Müller just can’t keep the pace.

    They had something like 7 days from their respective championships to get used to the climate and team. And here they are playing a rythms that are not sustainable. After around 80 minutes, Germany have had close to 25 shots on goal, and maybe 5 or 6 in the frame. And look at the ‘value’ of their players. They are running on empty.

    I believe this is one reason smaller southern countries, with just a few players in european top teams have a better chance and are disrupting the results. Good for them.

    I mean, if Costa Rica and Japan win their respective game, Spain and Germany are both out….

    However, this is going to split FIFA even more. And just wait till championships restart and longe term damage is visible in terms of fitness etc.

    The one organisation I do not understand is FIFPRO which should be defending the players, as it is their union and which just publishes some sentences about the rythm. Something like this would not happen in the US where player unions are full flegded actors in the championships.

    Anyway, the fallout of this WC is going to make for interesting headlines and events.

  6. Chris

    “Anyway, the fallout of this WC is going to make for interesting headlines and events”.

    Around Europe, and possibly the World, but I doubt there will be a whimper from our subservient media.

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