Visa International and the Swatch Group are the last two official sponsors to sign up for the FA Premier League’s 1998/99 football season.
Visa and Swatch, the watch brand owned by SMH, complete the line-up of second-tier sponsors, which already includes The Daily Telegraph, Sony PlayStation, Nestlé’s Yorkie, McDonald’s and Wilkinson Sword.
The seven companies will pay 2m each as second-tier sponsors behind Carling, which retains lead sponsorship status with its investment of 36m. The league will be known as the FA Carling Premiership until 2001.
As a result of the deal, Swatch will produce a limited edition watch using the FA Premier League symbol in the design and will look for further “areas of collaboration”. Visa has signed an additional deal with Manchester United, which will give it extra rights to advertising and match-day sponsorship opportunities. All sponsors receive perimeter advertising at every Premiership game as well as hospitality packages.
Visa senior vice-president of relationship management and marketing Adrian New says: “We have been seeking a sponsorship which reflects the daily impact of Visa and the FA Premier League fits the bill perfectly. Clearly, football is also very big business and we are looking forward to the possibility of forging close links with the commercial departments at the FA Premier League.”
Premier League commercial director Stephen Pearson says: “With these deals, I have cut the number of sponsors from 20 to seven and they will tidy up the look and feel of the Premier League and its grounds.”
Visa has committed a significant sum to sports sponsorship. It has sponsored the Olympic Games since 1986 and will sponsor the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000 and the World Road Cycling Championship in October 1998 in Holland. Visa is also an official supporter of the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
Swatch is the “official timekeeper” for the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Alpine World Cup season 1998/99.
Cover story, page 28