The Football Association has fined English Championship club Huddersfield Town about 12.5 per cent of its rights fee from ‘shirt sponsor’ Paddy Power for breaking the FA’s kit and advertising regulations.
SportBusiness Sponsorship understands that Huddersfield Town marketed the front-of-shirt rights at £400,000 ($492,000/€446,000) per year over the summer, having been relegated from the Premier League last season.
With no interest from other betting brands at that price, Huddersfield accepted a deal with Paddy Power that would call for the club to take part in a publicity stunt involving an outsized logo on a sash-style shirt during a pre-season friendly match.
The Paddy Power logo was subsequently withdrawn to highlight the bookmaker’s mischievous campaign against betting company branding on football club shirts.
According to one industry source, Paddy Power has more than made it money back on the rights fee: “Paddy Power are very frugal with the money they spend on rights fees and would have spent more on activating the guerrilla marketing campaign. They simply like to seize an opportunity where they can, even if it’s a bit off the wall.
“For the club, there’s been a kick back, but it may not have been too disappointed with the exposure – any publicity is good publicity. They got the rights fee they wanted and the fans are happy to have a blank shirt.”
From the FA’s submission, Huddersfield Town chairman, Phil Hodgkinson apologised for the error but argued that the club felt contractually obliged to deliver the stunt.
“We were threatened with legal action and the sponsor said that it would be deemed to be a material breach of the sponsorship agreement if the team did not wear the oversized logo,” he said.
In reply to the FA’s investigation, Huddersfield’s operations manager, Ann Hough, said: “At the time, and under time pressures, we felt that the ramifications (not just financial) of litigation were potentially very damaging to the club and this affected our judgment.”
Paddy Power struck similar ‘no logo’ shirt deals at Scottish Premiership club Motherwell and League One club Southed United to reinforce the campaign, but without the outsized logo stunt. The brand does not feature on the partner roster of Huddersfield Town or Southend United.