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Total Potential of Women’s Football Sponsorship Undervalued by Over US$1 Billion

08 July 2019
This article is more than 4 years old.

London, 8th July 2019 – The total potential worth of sponsorship in women’s football globally is undervalued by over US$1 billion, according to the leading independent brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance. The latest analysis, which models the differences between men’s and women’s football World Cup viewership and prize money as well as current sponsorship within the men’s game, estimates the value of women’s football sponsorship globally at US$1.2 billion more than where it currently stands. The analysis features in the Brand Finance Football Annual 2019 alongside other insights on club brand values, sponsorship effectiveness, league reputation, and stadia performance.

The immense disparity between current and potential sponsorship value for women’s football demonstrates the funding gap that women’s sides are facing. Could clubs be utilising their sponsorship deals more effectively? The current practice of bundling men and women sponsorship into one package is a key cause of revenue loss for rights holders and of marketing loss for corporate brands.

As women’s football continues to rise in popularity, the sport would benefit greatly from separating out these deals and inviting a broader variety of brands to sponsor the game. Brand Finance expects that – building on the success of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 which saw record viewership figures – women's leagues and clubs globally will be searching for ways to tap into the estimated US$1.2 billion of sponsorship value left on the table.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“It is clear that there is a monumental gap in the market for women’s football sponsorship. Recent deals, including Visa’s seven-year contract with UEFA and Lucozade’s support of the English Lionesses, are steps in the right direction to utilise the rise in popularity of the sport. As the women’s game gains more attention globally, following the success of the 2019 World Cup, we will no doubt see a more permanent shift in the business dynamic as well as the social dynamic of football.”

Bryn Anderson, Sports Valuation Director at Brand Finance, commented:

"As corporate brands take first steps into women's football sponsorship, the necessity for partnership evaluation and return on investment valuation has never been greater. Has the sponsorship raised awareness, changed corporate image, changed customer attitudes and behaviours towards the brand? It is important for brands to monitor sponsorship effectiveness to provide tactical, strategic, and ROI insight in a relatively new and exciting but largely untested market."

Superstars and Endorsements

On Sunday, the USA women’s football team made history by securing their fourth victory in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, scoring a record-breaking 26 goals throughout the competition. The team’s unwavering style, consistency, and determination have proven why the USWNT are the world’s no.1 women’s team with the best talent in the game. Co-captain Megan Rapinoe has well and truly stolen the show: winning the Golden Boot, the Golden Ball, and claiming player of the match for the final.

Bryn Anderson, Sports Valuation Director at Brand Finance, commented:

“Endorsement deals for Megan Rapinoe and her peers, including the highly marketable Alex Morgan, will inevitably come in off the back of the team’s World Cup success. The game needs superstars to help raise the profile and realise the potential.”

Sponsorship through women’s football may also offer many brands exposure to an audience of young ambitious females who may have been unreachable through the men’s game. By getting into these channels early, sponsors will be able to better understand their audience and tailor their messages accordingly.

Money vs. Viewership

The sensation caused by the World Cup has also boosted the debate over equal pay in the sport. Women players’ wages are a fraction of their male counterparts. The winners of this year's FIFA Women's World Cup will receive double the amount of prize money compared to the 2015 winners, with US$4 million up for grabs, and the overall prize fund has also doubled – to US$30 million. Nevertheless, the winners of the next men’s World Cup can expect to take away US$40 million, with total prize money reaching a staggering US$440 million.

The USWNT’s frustrations in particular are amplified against the backdrop of the US men’s national team currently receiving more pay, despite failing to even qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The entire women’s team is in the process of suing U.S. Soccer. Tennis is one of the sports at the forefront in terms of gender equality where we now see equal prize money for men and women at major tournaments such as Wimbledon. There is no reason why we should not see football undergo more significant changes as the game inevitably continues to grow.

In the UK, for instance, mirroring the success across the pond, the World Cup became the most watched women’s football tournament on television to date, with British viewing figures alone reaching a staggering 11.7 million viewers for the USA vs. England semi-final. With prediction of total viewing figures at nearly a billion globally for the whole tournament, it is clear that the interest in the women’s game is following a sharp upward trajectory, even if - with figures hitting a 3.5 billion mark for the 2018 Men’s World Cup - women’s football still has some ground to make up.

Bryn Anderson, Sports Valuation Director at Brand Finance, commented:

“Sunday brought us the final of what was a highly successful women’s football World Cup. The tournament broke various records in terms of TV audiences, online following, and general coverage. As viewership normally determines the magnitude of sponsorship deals and prize pots, the World Cup should be a catalyst for a business revolution in the women’s game.”

Whilst popularity of women’s football has started to take off at the national level, the next stage is further development at the league level. Having understood the changing rules, some corporate brands are already getting ahead of the game. In March 2019, the established British banking brand Barclays agreed a multi-million sponsorship deal with the Football Association Women's Super League (FA WSL) from the start of the 2019/20 season. The three-year contract is reported to be in excess of £10 million, which includes a £500,000 prize for the league champions, the first in its history. With the FA describing the deal as "the biggest ever investment in UK women's sport by a brand", it is a true milestone for women’s sport, marking the beginnings of change.

Late to the Party

As sponsors continue to invest, it will be interesting to observe the balance of power between national leagues and clubs. Europe’s largest clubs are starting to invest more resources into their respective women’s teams. FA WSL matches will be played as double-headers alongside certain Premier League fixtures in the coming campaign. There have also been active steps with regards to better scheduling so that audiences are not split between watching their favourite men’s or women’s teams and can instead watch both. There is also a continual drive to move more women’s fixtures into their respective club’s main stadium which could be key in generating match attendance.

9 of the top 10 most valuable football brands, as ranked in the Brand Finance Football 50 report, now have an official women’s team. Only Real Madrid – the world’s most valuable football brand – lags behind but has recently announced plans to purchase local women’s side CD Tacon to officially join the women’s game in June 2020. Second-placed Manchester United only established its women’s side in May 2018, which has since been promoted from the Championship to the FA WSL for the 2019/20 season along with Tottenham. Big names being promoted for the first time signals the larger clubs’ intent to succeed in the women’s game, despite being slower to partake.

Despite nearly all European powerhouses now fielding women’s teams, the success enjoyed by the men’s sides is rarely mirrored by the women’s teams, and vice versa. From Brand Finance’s top 10, only Arsenal have won the UEFA Women’s Champions League, with PSG and Barcelona achieving runner up positions. At the same time, the most decorated team in the competition is Lyon, winning an impressive six times, followed closely by Frankfurt who have claimed the title four times. Sweden’s Umeå, victorious twice in the Champions League, continue to outshine their male counterparts who only play in the Swedish third division.

Bryn Anderson, Sports Valuation Director at Brand Finance, commented:

“The coming years will likely see many of the top European clubs among the winners in the women’s game. The fact that the top two brands were the slowest to the party in terms of establishing a women’s side shows that - whilst late - they have wised up to potential benefits that it can bring. As viewership grows, so should sponsorship and broadcast revenue, and hence further resources can be invested in players.”


Note to Editors
The financial estimations of sponsorship disparity in women’s and men’s football are taken from the Brand Finance Football Annual 2019 – a hard-back coffee table book on the changing face of the business of football – due for publication in August 2019.

The Annual features detailed club brand profiles and provides in-depth analysis on club brand values, sponsorship effectiveness, league reputation, and stadia performance. It includes special contributions by LaLiga, Juventus, and Barclays, among others. The Annual builds on the findings of the Brand Finance Football 50 2019 report on the world’s most valuable and strongest football club brands.

Detailed explanation of calculations and methodology is available upon request.

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Penny Erricker
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Brand Finance

About Brand Finance

Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Bridging the gap between marketing and finance for more than 25 years, Brand Finance evaluates the strength of brands and quantifies their financial value to help organizations of all kinds make strategic decisions.

Headquartered in London, Brand Finance has offices in over 20 countries, offering services on all continents. Every year, Brand Finance conducts more than 5,000 brand valuations, supported by original market research, and publishes over 100 reports which rank brands across all sectors and countries.

Brand Finance also operates the Global Brand Equity Monitor, conducting original market research annually on over 5,000 brands, surveying more than 150,000 respondents across 38 countries and 31 industry sectors. Combining perceptual data from the Global Brand Equity Monitor with data from its valuation database enables Brand Finance to arm brand leaders with the data and analytics they need to enhance brand and business value.

Brand Finance is a regulated accountancy firm, leading the standardization of the brand valuation industry. Brand Finance was the first to be certified by independent auditors as compliant with both ISO 10668 and ISO 20671 and has received the official endorsement of the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) in the United States.

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Brand is defined as a marketing-related intangible asset including, but not limited to, names, terms, signs, symbols, logos, and designs, intended to identify goods, services, or entities, creating distinctive images and associations in the minds of stakeholders, thereby generating economic benefits.

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Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors. Brand Finance evaluates brand strength in a process compliant with ISO 20671, looking at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance. The data used is derived from Brand Finance’s proprietary market research programme and from publicly available sources.

Each brand is assigned a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score out of 100, which feeds into the brand value calculation. Based on the score, each brand is assigned a corresponding Brand Rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating.

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Brand Finance calculates the values of brands in its rankings using the Royalty Relief approach – a brand valuation method compliant with the industry standards set in ISO 10668. It involves estimating the likely future revenues that are attributable to a brand by calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for its use, to arrive at a ‘brand value’ understood as a net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market.

The steps in this process are as follows:

1 Calculate brand strength using a balanced scorecard of metrics assessing Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and Business Performance. Brand strength is expressed as a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score on a scale of 0 to 100.

2 Determine royalty range for each industry, reflecting the importance of brand to purchasing decisions. In luxury, the maximum percentage is high, while in extractive industry, where goods are often commoditised, it is lower. This is done by reviewing comparable licensing agreements sourced from Brand Finance’s extensive database.

3 Calculate royalty rate. The BSI score is applied to the royalty range to arrive at a royalty rate. For example, if the royalty range in a sector is 0-5% and a brand has a BSI score of 80 out of 100, then an appropriate royalty rate for the use of this brand in the given sector will be 4%.

4 Determine brand-specific revenues by estimating a proportion of parent company revenues attributable to a brand.

5 Determine forecast revenues using a function of historic revenues, equity analyst forecasts, and economic growth rates.

6 Apply the royalty rate to the forecast revenues to derive brand revenues.

7 Discount post-tax brand revenues to a net present value which equals the brand value.


Brand Finance has produced this study with an independent and unbiased analysis. The values derived and opinions presented in this study are based on publicly available information and certain assumptions that Brand Finance used where such data was deficient or unclear. Brand Finance accepts no responsibility and will not be liable in the event that the publicly available information relied upon is subsequently found to be inaccurate. The opinions and financial analysis expressed in the study are not to be construed as providing investment or business advice. Brand Finance does not intend the study to be relied upon for any reason and excludes all liability to any body, government, or organisation.

The data presented in this study form part of Brand Finance's proprietary database, are provided for the benefit of the media, and are not to be used in part or in full for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

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