The estimated five-year Puma contract is understood to be worth more than £150m, which surpasses all current kit supplier deals in English football. This includes Nike’s £25.4m-a-year agreement with Manchester United, although the two are currently in negotiations to renew the partnership.
Both Arsenal and Puma say the “long-term” deal is the biggest in either organisation’s history. This means the deal usurps the contract renewal Arsenal signed with Emirates airlines for shirt and stadium sponsorship in 2012, which is worth £150m over five years.
Effective 1 July the Puma sponsorship will see the brand produce the playing and training kit for all Arsenal teams. Puma has also acquired global licensing rights to develop other Arsenal branded merchandise.
The partners say they will work together on a global strategy to drive mutual growth across all football markets achieved through Puma’s global sales network, international tours and integrated marketing activities.
Puma hopes the deal will mark it out as the “clear number three football brand”, behind Adidas and Nike, as it will benefit from the club’s global reach.
It is also the kit supplier to the Italian national team, Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle United. Last year Puma also added to its player portfolio, signing up former Arsenal and now Barcelona star Cesc Fabergas, Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure and AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao.
Björn Gulden, Puma chief executive, says: “Arsenal have been a key strategic target for Puma for a number of years now. Through a clear commercial vision, a well-defined sports marketing strategy and a relentless enthusiasm within the Puma organisation, we’re proud to have signed this partnership with a truly global football club. As we enter a new era in our company history, Arsenal represents a major commercial and marketing opportunity to reinforce Puma’s credibility as a global sports brand, and we have full confidence the plans in place to activate this partnership will have a significant global impact.”
The news of the Puma deal came as no surprise after the former Great British 100m sprinter Linford Christie tweeted – and then quickly deleted – a picture last October of former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry and Olivier Giroud wearing Puma branded Arsenal kits.
The deal sees the end of Nike’s 20-year association with the London-based club. Nike and Arsenal had explored an extension of the £8m a year deal, but it was thought the sportswear brand was unable to meet the club’s revised demands.
The club has earmarked 2014 as the start of a period in which its commercial revenues will grow sharply after renegotiating deals with a number of existing sponsors, including stadium sponsor Emirates.
Arsenal’s revenue dropped from €290.3m in the 2011/12 season to €284.3m in 2012/13, forcing the club down two places in the Deloitte Football Money League table.
Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal chief executive officer, says: “We are excited to be partnering with Puma, a company whose football heritage and record of innovation have a strong affinity with our own. This represents another important step forward in Arsenal’s progression on and off the pitch.”