2020 MLS kit, shirt and sleeve sponsors

2020 MLS kit, shirt and sleeve sponsors

Note: This article will be updated when new deals are announced.

Major League Soccer is growing, slowly but steadily. The average club value has risen from $37 million in 2008 to $240 million in 2018. Since 2008 the top-tier North American football league has gone from 14 to 26 teams, with David Beckham’s Inter Miami and Nashville SC the latest expansion teams.

With the MLS now allowing clubs to sell their sponsorship rights internationally and to have sleeve sponsors, we could well see the MLS’ sponsorship landscape change significantly in the coming years. 

As in 2019, we take a look at the 2020 MLS shirt sponsors, the league-wide kit sponsorship deal and the introduction of sleeve sponsors.

Kit sponsor Adidas

Since 2004 the MLS has a league-wide supply deal with Adidas. Meaning that the German brand does not only supply league affiliates, officials and the match ball, they outfit all 26 teams. The partnership has been extended through 2024 and reports suggest that the current six-year deal is worth $700 million.

This league-wide approach differs from many major football leagues, where clubs are allowed to broker their own kit sponsorship deals. A policy that has led to a £75 million (around €86M) per year kit deal between Manchester United and Adidas and a €155 million per year deal between Barcelona and Nike.

In 2019 the City Football Group, consisting of eight teams worldwide including Manchester City and MLS team New York City FC, agreed a 10-year technical sponsorship deal with Puma. The deal is said to be worth £650 million and covers five of the City franchises. However, with New York City FC being part of the MLS, the City Football Group could not include their US franchise in the Puma deal. New York City and Manchester City do have the same shirt sponsor with Etihad Airways.

Although MLS teams cannot negotiate their technical sponsors, they are allowed to broker their own shirt and sleeve sponsorship deals. So there is a lot of diversity among shirt sponsors.

Shirt sponsors – key takeaways

  • Columbus Crew and expansion team Inter Miami are the only two teams out of 26 without a shirt sponsor
  • San Jose Earthquakes agreed a sponsorship deal with Intermedia after having no sponsor in 2019
  • 23 different companies sponsor the 2020 MLS teams
  • BMO is the only brand sponsoring multiple teams (2 – Montreal Impact and Toronto FC)
  • Red Bull is the only company whose name is integrated into the team name – New York Red Bulls

It is interesting to see the kind of services and products these brands deliver to the market and to compare them with other leagues. For example if you look at the 2019-2020 Premier League shirt sponsors, 10 out of 20 shirt sponsors are gambling companies. The MLS has none. However, there are four healthcare related sponsors in the MLS, while the Premier League has none.

So in which industries are the MLS teams’ sponsors active?

We can roughly categorise the 23 different companies into 12 different industries. Six MLS teams have a shirt sponsor from the financial services industry. With the Bank of Montreal (BMO) sponsoring two teams, there are five financial services companies active as shirt sponsor. The healthcare industry comes second by sponsoring four teams.

Other industries with multiple companies sponsoring MLS teams are the multi-level marketing (3), telecommunications and airline (both 2) industries. 

2020 MLS shirt sponsors per industry

2020 MLS shirt sponsors per industry

Where do the shirt sponsors come from?

To break down the shirt sponsors origin we analysed where the companies have their headquarters. Key takeaways:

  • Most of the shirt sponsors come from MLS countries: USA (19) and Canada (3)
  • Two sponsors come from abroad; they come from UAE and Austria (both 1)
  • 14 teams have a shirt sponsor from their home state or city

Note: The table below will be updated when new deals are announced. 2021 expansion team Austin FC will have YETI, manufacturer of outdoor products, as shirt sponsor.

2020 MLS shirt sponsors

TeamShirt sponsorIndustry shirt sponsor
Atlanta United FCAmerican Family InsuranceFinancial services
Chicago FireMotorolaTelecommunications
FC CincinnatiMercy HealthHealthcare
Colorado RapidsTransamericaFinancial services
Columbus Crew SC
FC DallasAdvoCareMulti-level marketing
Inter Miami CF
D.C. UnitedLeidosSecurity and technology
Houston DynamoMD Anderson Cancer CenterHealthcare
LAFCYouTube TVPay television
LA GalaxyHerbalife NutritionMulti-level marketing
Minnesota UnitedTargetRetail
Montreal ImpactBMOFinancial services
Nashville SCRenasantFinancial Services
New England RevolutionUHC United HealthcareHealthcare
New York City FCEtihad AirwaysAirline
New York Red BullsRed BullBeverage/Conglomerate
Orlando City SCOrlando HealthHealthcare
Philadelphia UnionBimboFood processing
Portland TimbersAlaska AirlinesAirline
Real Salt LakeLifeVantageMulti-level marketing
San Jose EarthquakesIntermedia Cloud CommunicationsBusiness technology
Seattle Sounders FCZulilyE-commerce
Sporting Kansas CityIvy InvestmentsFinancial services
Toronto FCBMOFinancial services
Vancouver WhitecapsBellTelecommunications

Introduction of sleeve sponsors in 2020

2020 will be the first season MLS teams are allowed to have a sleeve patch. The four-year pilot, announced in October 2018, will give the teams an extra income stream in addition to the shirt and other sponsorship deals. Reports suggest that a deal could generate anywhere between $500,000 and $1 million per year.

So far four teams have announced a sleeve sponsor, including D.C. United announcing gaming and gambling company Caesars Entertainment and LAFC retailer Target.

Note: The table below will be updated when new deals are announced.

2020 MLS sleeve sponsors

TeamSleeve sponsorIndustry sleeve sponsor
Atlanta United FCPiedmont HealthHealth care
D.C. UnitedCaesars EntertainmentGaming and gambling
Toronto FCGE AppliancesManufacturer

MLS vs. Europe

With the league-wide Adidas deal, the MLS teams are limited in the amount of money they can generate from sponsorship compared to their European counterparts. However, with the introduction of sleeve sponsorships, the league’s growth and other rule changes, the MLS sponsorship landscape could well change significantly in the coming years.

2 Responses

  1. December 7, 2021

    […] will serve as Next Pro’s first corporate sponsor. The company previously signed a reported six-year, $700 million extension with MLS until […]

  2. December 8, 2021

    […] will serve as Next Pro’s first corporate sponsor. The company previously signed a reported six-year, $700 million extension with MLS until […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *