After reading the recent article on a Bayern Munich contract trying to force Frank Ribery into a pair of Adidas football boots I couldn’t get rid of the bad taste in my mouth. I was tempted to leave a rather large comment on the subject, but then decided that I had enough of a rant there to start the basis for an article.

When I crunched the numbers on the price of player sponsorship a few months back, I gained a lot of respect for larger football boot companies (Adidas in particular as they were kind enough to share some of their figures which formed the basis for my article) who focus so much money on getting players to advertise their wares; so I can understand that wherever possible having the biggest names wearing your product can have a massive impact on sales for boots, not to mention other products.

Franck Ribery Nike Football Boots

Franck Ribery

Once a sports company has a player on its books for both boots and club it means they can get much more ‘mileage’ for that particular superstar. It avoids the ‘red tape’ when using the player in ads and marketing campaigns for the seasons new kits. For example Nike use Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez and Evra for their Manchester United-centric adverts, and this season’s Liverpool Kit was launched by Gerrard, Kuyt and Pepe Reina. Many people see certain players as synonymous with certain clubs, especially when advertising their merchandise overseas – Can you imagine seeing an advert for AC Milan replicas with no Kaka?

Again, looking at things from Adidas’ point of view, Ribery signed a contract that he and his agent will have been fully aware of, and he could have argued the toss with the club when negotiating before he put pen-to-paper on his new deal for Bayern.

Franck Ribery wears Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly

Ribery continues to wear the Vapor Superfly

However, as frequent poster ‘Jed’ said on the article – it’s a dangerous move when a brand tries to use club loyalty to try and influence endorsement deals. It can start rumours that the player and the club are no longer ‘compatible’, and we all know how little information it takes for transfer gossip to start picking up speed, as well as how much agents like to get a value on how much their client is worth.

Secondly; footballers, like the rest of us get used to boots. Footy Boots community member ‘kevin’ mentioned football boots giving you a mental edge. Whilst it being a debateable issue, it’s a definite possibility that if Ribery had been forced to change from his Vapor’s to Adidas’ likely alternative, the F50, mid-season it might’ve taken him a couple of games to adjust, and in a crowded season a couple of games with your best winger having a hump on about his football boots could cost you valuable points.

Adidas F50.9 TUNiT Rome

The latest F50 from Adidas – the Rome

Finally, and most importantly, I feel it reflects badly on the 3 Stripes as a brand; shouldn’t they have confidence in their football boots to sell themselves to the pro’s? Surely the fact that they’re trying to use Bayern as a lever is a massive statement on where Adidas see themselves in comparison to the competition?

Where does everyone else stand on this?'  Should it go as far as that there should be no mention of football boots in a player’s contract? Are there other solutions for companies to help get team’s best player’s in their boots? Or should players just be allowed to use the football boots they want to wear – and if someone wants to sponsor them – so be it?

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  1. says: Fenboy

    It’s a great point Kyle – where do you draw the line.

    In Bayern’s case, I can understand the loyalty to Adidas. It must tough for them to see their star player affiliated to another brand, particularly Nike.

    I do wonder how far we are away from a team of 11 branded players playing for the exact same branded team?? Should make the January transfer window interesting!

  2. says: Jed

    Fenboy, the German national team have tried that. They wanted to kit Germany out in Adi boots. Led by Jens Lehmann, the players revolted and they got to wear the boots they wanted. I can’t see clubs managing to do this either, it would be too tricky to clear all the personal contracts up.

  3. says: Aussie Lad

    Very good article, and the use of commenters opinions in it was a nice touch.

    I tend to side with the argument for players to wear whatever they want and if they are asked by the brand to become a marketing figure then so be it.
    I don’t think your club should have a say in what you are comfortable with.

  4. says: Ciara

    Now think of this from a goalkeepers perspective. They also have to sign contracts thinking about gloves and boots; and these days, especially in England, there are more glove brands than there are for boots.

  5. says: VB

    I am a hardcore adidas ‘wearer’, but I think it’s ludicrous to instruct the athletes what to wear. NFL players, for example, cannot wear anything else besides Nike, Under Armour, and Reebok. Reggie Bush of the NO Saints has a deal with adidas (along with other NFL players) but he gets fined every time he wears adidas boots. It’s crazy, really, because Reebok and adidas are techinically the same compnay but he still gets fined some $10K every time he puts adidas on (although I’m sure adidas foots the bill).
    Also, who else thinks that adidas was behind the David Beckham move to AC Milan? I definitely do. Although I went on a little tangent, I think you guys get my point. I definitely believe it should be left up to athletes as to what they want to wear and what they feel most comfortable with; whether mentally or psychically, or both.

  6. says: david

    i think you are missing the overall point. adidas have a 10% stake in bayern munich – surely it is in their best interests to have as many players in their own boots as possible?

    imagine if you own a mcdonalds restaurant and your employees come in every day clutching a whopper? it’s a similar analogy.

    brands want to secure all the touchpoints for key assets (the players) from team kit to boots to gloves. this in turn enables them to protect the total end to end experience and create greater marketing synergies (as mentioned in the article)

    im not sure how this positions the brand in the eyes of the consumer. my guess is that when you see your favourite player scoring a goal in a pair of nikes but he is in an adidas team kit, you attribute that ability in some part to the boots he is wearing – not the kit.

    imagine if ribery single handedly fires bayern to success this season. as a result who is really the star brand here and who gets the better deal – adidas or nike? i think this fact tells us why adidas are so desperate to add him to their stable of stars.

  7. says: Kyle

    Thanks for the comments as usual guys!

    VB – I never knew any of that, I’m a bit of a ‘fairweather’ NFL fan (only watch it around playoff time) it’s astounding! A monetary fine for a pre-existing deal? Crazy stuff!

    I’ve heard rumours myself on the Beckhaam issue – Real Madrid, LA Galaxy & AC Milan: All Adidas clubs? Beckham is ‘Mr. Adidas’ in soccer -Coincidence?

    David – excellent point (and great blog by the way!), I agree to an extent, I addressed some of the reasons for brands like Adidas getting invovled in negotiations, it’s just my personal belief that they shouldn’t. Surely, by letting athletes choose their own boots gives manufacturers more incentive to produce quality boots? I mean Leagues like the MLS in the states have all their teams kits made by Adidas, this could cause a horrible monopoly situation on boots. Which could spill over to the national team, whose kits are made by Nike.

  8. says: Devin

    I think that player team contracts and sponsorships should not be involved with eachother at all.

    Adidas should have offered him more, plain and simple.

    I would prefer a move for Ribery to Manchester so maybe this renewing of his boot deal with Nike is a sign of things to come :). Though we wouldnt sign him unless Ronaldo left to Real anyway, which seems a little weird right now since theres talks of Kaka going to Real as well.

    Does Ribery play on the right or left?

  9. says: david

    kyle, i agree athletes should be allowed to choose which boot brand they go with, without intervention from club officials.

    either way your article has roused some debate and i think the subject is a fascinating one.

  10. says: Greg

    Kyle you hit it right on the head! Remember when Becks went to Real, he was first set for Barca(Nike) and Real was more last minute. Even last year when he went thru training with Arsenal(Nike again), Wenger was impressed with the skills DB still had, but oddly there were no efforts to even get him on loan like ACM has. I’m sure they could have used him last year during the Champs League/Premier League campaign.

    I do think brand rivalry is very prevalent. I do predict Ribery will go to Man U if Ronaldo goes to Real simply because I would basically be a club brand switch. Adidas will have to give up their top Nike sponsored player (Ribery) in order to allow THE top nike player (Ronaldo) to be on an adidas branded club.

  11. says: Greg

    Kyle you hit it right on the head! Remember when Becks went to Real, he was first set for Barca(Nike) and Real was more last minute. Even last year when he went thru training with Arsenal(Nike again), Wenger was impressed with the skills DB still had, but oddly there were no efforts to even get him on loan like ACM has. I’m sure they could have used him last year during the Champs League/Premier League campaign.

  12. says: Zizou wannabe

    Of course players should wear what they want OR accept the cash on a contract and wear what their paymasters tell them. Honestly, if players had a choice, I think everyone would choose to wear Copa, World Cup and Puma Kings!

    But anyway, what about the club and players’ boot situation esp for players coming thro youth systems? I think all Pool youngsters wear adidas, and all Man United boys wear Nike (tho just saw J Evans sporting Predators…). That is surely part of the contract for those who are not signed with a brand, or waiting for a bigger offer from another brand?

    Only we amateurs get to choose at the end of the day! So we’re better off in ONE aspect vs the players! haha…

  13. says: Torres #6

    Alternatively are you aware of Cruyff and his Puma/Adidas scenario?

    He was endorsed by Puma football boots and Holland’s national kit was made by Adidas. If you search the web for Cruyff in Holland kit (images) you will notice that his kit only had 2 stripes rather than 3.

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