Historically, when it comes to jersey sponsorships, Nike and Adidas have dominated. Puma has carved out a niche for themselves over the years, especially with African National Teams, and most recently their nearly $250 million/20 year deal with Arsenal. Now, a fourth major jersey manufacturer is growing its soccer portfolio and continuing expansion into England. Enter Under Armour.
While this is the last year of their deal with Tottenham before the North London club switches to Nike, a pair of new deals in English soccer and further sponsorship of players in the English Premier League, Under Armour is starting to make its presence felt. This season, Southampton debut their new Under Armour kits, along with a new sponsor in Virgin Media. Additionally, Aston Villa has donned the Baltimore-based company on their traditional claret and blue kit. Furthermore, Under Armour has a pair of English Premier League sponsored players in Manchester United winger Memphis Depay and Arsenal newboy Granit Xhaka.
Already a major player in the North American sports market with sponsorships of Tom Brady, Steph Curry, Bryce Harper, Michael Phelps, Dwayne “The Rock” Johsnon, and the Chicago Cubs, this expansion into England comes on the heals of earlier expansion in the North American market with the New York Cosmos. Under Armour is also a sponsor of Brazilian giants São Paulo FC, Chilean powerhouses Colo-Colo, and hipster/cult favorite St. Pauli FC in the 2. Bundesliga.
Almost two years ago, Under Armour passed Adidas to become the second largest US apparel brand, behind Nike. With the aforementioned major deals in North America, plus continued expansion in soccer markets across the globe, Under Armour is a force to be reckoned with. It will be interesting in seeing how much they continue to grow their soccer business, which also includes athlete deals with USMNT star Jermaine Jones along and USWNT midfielder Kelley O’Hara. Competition (and money) are good for teams and brands, so expect Under Armour to continue their expansion in the lucrative world of English Premier League as they continue to take on Nike and Adidas.