SBD/December 14, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Corner Kicks: Nike Takes Over USL Sponsorship Despite Divesting Stake In League

Nike on Wednesday said that it is “taking over as sponsor of the United Soccer League three years after the company sold its majority stake in the minor league circuit.” In Portland, Erik Siemers noted Nike “inherited ownership of the USL" in '07 when it acquired U.K.-based Umbro, "which held a 98 percent stake in the league.” Nike “divested its stake” in the USL in August ‘09 to Atlanta-based NuRock Soccer Holdings, "though the Umbro brand stayed on as the league's primary sponsor.” Nike subsequently sold Umbro to Iconix Brand Group in a $225M deal “that closed earlier this month, prompting Nike to shift over and become USL's primary sponsor” (, 12/12).

COMING TO AMERICA: MARKETING magazine’s John Reynolds reported EPL club Tottenham Hotspur has “earmarked developing the football club's brand in the US as a key priority by targeting its portfolio of sponsors and its US support base through marketing initiatives.” Tottenham Int'l Business Development Senior Manager Aidan Mullally said, "We see the US as our number one priority." The club “went on a pre-season tour of the US this year,” visiting L.A., Baltimore and N.Y., and a “number of the club's sponsors are US companies," including HP, EA Sports, and Under Armour. The club said that it has “around six million fans in the US” (, 12/12).

FOR KICKS: PR WEEK’s John Owens reported Puma is “planning to ratchet up its share in the increasingly competitive soccer market by targeting youngsters through the brand's big-name soccer stars.” The company has “picked Clifford French as its retained UK and Ireland agency covering football following a three-way pitch process.” The appointment, replacing “incumbent Mercieca, will involve the agency using a trio of stars -- and their respective soccer shoe deals -- to appeal to young fans.” Puma in the campaign will “use its links" with EPL club Manchester City F Sergio Agüero and MF Yaya Touré, as well as La Liga club FC Barcelona MF Cesc Fàbregas (, 12/12).
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