A landmark deal for both sides as adidas is bullish on soccer’s future in North America.
The adidas footprint in the world’s most popular sport is undeniably powerful and they are doing everything they can to keep it that way. They continue to strengthen their position as the world’s leading soccer brand through long-term partnerships with the likes of FIFA, UEFA, national teams, club teams, and MLS.
While MLS is currently the fifth most popular league in the US behind the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB, adidas is showing incredible faith through their partnership extension. The $700 million (according to industry sources) deal that will run through 2024 makes adidas the official apparel supplier of the League, its clubs, and their affiliated youth programs.
This is a huge jump in value following their 8yr/$200 million deal in 2010 and marks the biggest venture adidas has ever made in North American soccer.
Broken down, the MLS will go from raking in $25 million per year to almost $117 million per year under the new deal, which is more than their yearly television revenue ($90 million). To put it in perspective, adidas inked a deal in 2015 with the NHL for 7 years and approximately $70 million per year (according to industry sources) to start the 2017–18 season, valuing the deal at about $490 million. This is a milestone agreement for MLS, making the future look brighter than the sun on a day with no clouds.
The partnership will include an increased focus on the Generation Adidas program and youth development. Generation Adidas is a program that allows homegrown players to enter the league early. Once entering the program, players are considered professionals and are thus unable to compete at the collegiate level.
However, Generation Adidas players are guaranteed college scholarships to pursue an education if their professional career does not pan out. Alumni of this program include players such as Tim Howard, DaMarcus Beasley, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Kyle Beckerman, and more, all of who have played for the USMNT.
— adidas Soccer (@adidassoccer) August 2, 2017
“If it was a typical league deal, where you only get to put your logo on the jersey, I think we’d still be interested because soccer is our core sport around the world, but it really becomes interesting when you look at all the programs that help build the sport,” says adidas US CEO Mark King. “My guess is within 10 years, from a youth participation standpoint, soccer will be the biggest sport. And if kids who play soccer continue to be fans of the sport, then yeah, if you’re talking 20 to 30 years from now, I think MLS can be as big as NFL.”
That’s a bold, but possible, statement if I have ever heard one. In order to improve our standing on the world stage, youth development is instrumental. adidas has played a huge part in getting MLS to where it is now, and they have committed to bringing the league to the next level with this partnership extension.
Dating back to 2011, adidas renewed its partnership with UEFA through 2018 for the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, and UEFA Women’s Champions League. On top of that, in 2013, adidas extended its partnership with FIFA through 2030, granting them Official Partner, Supplier, and Licensee rights for the FIFA World Cup and all FIFA events. With this kind of presence on the world stage, adidas will continue its reign as world leading brand in soccer. On top of these partnerships, adidas outfits Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Manchester United amongst a myriad of other clubs.
Now, while adidas is clearly committed to the growth of soccer in the US, it gets even more interesting. After being the NBA jersey sponsor for 11 years, adidas opted against extending their deal in 2015, allowing Nike to take over. Having less than a 5% market share in US basketball shoes did not appeal to them, so they decided to shift their focus to a league that shows loads of promise, the MLS.
“Major League Soccer has built a legacy with adidas that has been essential in the rise of our League,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “adidas has been a major collaborator with us since the inception of MLS, and we are proud that our partnership with this globally-respected brand will continue to enhance the growth of the game in North America for many more years. We will work with adidas on innovative concepts to showcase the sport and our elite athletes, and we will intensify our mission to develop top North American soccer players for generations to come.”
The new adidas “Creator’s Network” will allow in-depth story telling through both local and national content from League supporters and influencers. This partnership will continue to be fruitful for both sides through innovation, collaboration, and positivity.
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