The sponsors of clubs in Italy’s Serie A with the highest level of recognition among football fans are Jeep, Lete and Pirelli, according to research by Italian consultancy StageUp and research company IPSOS published on Wednesday.
Motor manufacturer Jeep, the main sponsor of Juventus, was recognised by 23 per cent of respondents as a Serie A sponsor. Mineral water brand Lete (Napoli) was recognised by 22 per cent and Pirelli (Inter) by 19 per cent.
Spontaneous, unprompted, brand recognition of sponsors across the championship remains low, having risen from 4.5 per cent of fans who could name any Serie A sponsor unaided in 2002 to 5.2 per cent in 2019.
However, the number of football fans who, when prompted with a specific club, were able to name a sponsor of that club has risen from 32 per cent in 2002 to 40 per cent in 2019.
In 2017, the most recent year for which a full breakdown is available, €870m was invested in sponsorship deals for sport in Italy, split as follows:
- €302m across the three divisions of professional football (Serie A, Serie B and Lega Pro)
- €84m in the top-tier domestic leagues for basketball and volleyball
- €102m for national sports federations
- €382m in other events and disciplines
Just over 30m Italians between 14 and 64 said they followed the Serie A Championship in 2018-19, a one-per-cent increase on last season. The lowest-ever figure for declared fans of Serie A was 26.8m in 2006-07, when Juventus were playing in Serie B as punishment for the club’s role in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.
The authors of the report said the ‘Ronaldo effect’, following Cristiano Ronaldo’s move from Real Madrid to Juventus, had compensated for a loss of interest in the league due to the predictability of the outcome – in 2018-19 Juventus won its eighth consecutive title. The proportion of Italian football fans who said they follow Juventus has risen from 32 cent in 2002 to 38 per cent in 2019.
The analysis suggests that the fanbase has been growing older since the 2001-02 season. The proportion of 14-to-34-year-olds declaring interest in the championship has fallen from 44 per cent in 2001-02 to 35 per cent this season.
The ways fans consume the championship is also in evolution. In 2002, only seven per cent of fans followed Serie A on a phone or PC, compared to 36 per cent in 2019.
Of football fans surveyed, 76 per cent said that ownership of stadiums by clubs, rather than local authorities, as is predominantly the case, was either ‘fairly important’ or ‘very important’ to the development of the Italian football movement.
The research was based on 86,000 interviews conducted over 19 years, between 2000 and 2019.