Analysing The Partnership Between Bolton Wanderers and Macron
In July 2014, Bolton Wanderers and Macron agreed a four-year-deal to rename the stadium to the ‘Macron Stadium’. This was the first time in football history that an Italian company has given its name to the stadium of an English club.
In addition, Macron were named the official kit manufacturers, on an eight-year-deal. This ended Bolton Wanderers’ 24-year partnership with Reebok. This article is based around a project I conducted during the final year of my undergraduate degree.
Macron are an Italian sporting apparel company, founded in 1971 in Bologna, Italy. Although founded in 1971, it took Macron 30 years to agree their first professional football contract. This occurred in 2001, with local side Bologna FC 1909. Since then, Macron have grown from strength to strength, expanding all over Europe sponsoring teams such as English sides; Aston Villa, Leeds United and Millwall FC. Portuguese side, Sporting CP and Spanish side, Real Betis.
Additionally, Macron were the official kit supplier for the Scottish Rugby Union team during the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup.
In regards to Bolton Wanderers, between 1990 and 2009 Reebok were the club’s main shirt sponsor. As well as, Reebok acted as the clubs kit manufacturer between 1993 and 2012. In fact, the partnership between Bolton Wanderers and Reebok represents the longest kit partnership in English football history, to date. In 2005, Adidas acquired Reebok in a reported $3.8 billion deal (£2.9 billion).
This resulted in Bolton Wanderers’ kit manufacturers between 2012 and 2014 changing its allegiances to Adidas, after Reebok’s initial deal expired.
In 1997, Bolton Wanderers built a new 28,000-seat stadium. Reebok bought the naming rights for the stadium, and between 1997-2014 the stadium was known as the ‘Reebok Stadium’.
How the Bolton Wanderers and Macron deal came about..
As the clubs contract with Reebok was ending, after a 24-year partnership. It was within the best interests of both parties to terminate the partnership. This partly came down to Reebok’s unwillingness to renegotiate the contract, as their priorities were elsewhere, outside of football. This left Bolton Wanderers without a sponsor, and through a company called Front Row Marketing, they found various potential new partners for the club. Macron were one of the organisations who met the criteria Bolton Wanderers set.
After long negotiations, both parties agreed on a kit manufacturer deal and a stadium naming rights deal. Logistical changes then occurred after the agreement was made, this involved changing the branding of the stadium, and changing road and car park signs around the stadium, and in the surrounding areas of Bolton. These changes were all made in the summer of 2014.
Has the deal been a success, so far?
Many suggest that media coverage is a key value for assessing return on an investment. From Macron’s perspective, they gained a substantial amount of media coverage in Bolton Wanderers’ ties with Chelsea in the Capital One Cup and Liverpool in the FA Cup in the 2014/15 season. The latter game went to a replay, at the Macron Stadium. Which earned Macron huge coverage, as the game was globally televised.
Macron took advantage of this, adding the brand’s logo to various points of the ground in shot of the television cameras. Moreover, the game received huge press and internet coverage. In fact, Macron received more google searches during and after the Liverpool game at the Macron Stadium, than they did before the game took place.
However, it is suggested that another way of Macron measuring the success of their investment is through spectator numbers. Bolton Wanderers had a poor campaign in the 2015/16 season, seeing themselves relegated to the third tier of English football. Poor results throughout the season affected spectator numbers, as the average attendance stood at 15,056, the clubs lowest average attendance since 2000.
To gain Bolton Wanderers’ perspective, I visited the stadium for a meeting with the Head of Commercial at the time, ahead of the home fixture against Leeds United on 24th October 2015. He believed the Macron deal has been a commercial success, and stated that the deal was financially correct for the club.
Additionally, he praised Macron for being a personal brand to the club, implying that the club have a huge say on kit ideas, and don’t get forced into using generic kit templates like other clubs do. Furthermore, he opened up on regular visits from Macron’s employees in an attempt to directly communicate with the club, and its fans.
Rounding up, he is confident that the partnership with Macron will be a long and successful one, that could go beyond the current contract duration agreed.
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