Inter Milan’s iconic shirt sponsorship deal with Italian tyre company Pirelli will come to an end at the end of the current season, after 26 years. It all started when Roy Hodgson was Nerazzuri boss back in 1995.
Many people have grown up knowing nothing but Inter x Pirelli, with superstars from Ronaldo, Javier Zanetti and Samuel Eto’o donning the shirts in the 90s and 2000s, and Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez bearing the logo on their chests today.
It got us thinking about other brands that are intertwined with the history of a club because of long running partnerships. Here are the top ten longest-running shirt sponsorship deals in Europe’s top five leagues.
The club were purchased by the Red Bull group as part of their project to enter football, but German rules meant they couldn’t put their name on the club in the same way.
RB officially stands for ‘RasenBallsport’, but this is just a workaround for the energy drink brand to get their initials in the club name. They have sponsored the shirt since they bought the club back in 2009 and also the stadium name too.
When the Abu Dhabi Group purchased Manchester City back in 2008, they made wholesale changes including the name on the front of the shirt.
Etihad have been the main sponsor of the blue side of Manchester since 2009 and they also hold the stadium naming rights too. They just extended their deal beyond this season.
A smaller club in Germany, FC Koln have formed a steady partnership with the travel and tourism company Rewe since 2007.
The REWE Group is one of the leading retail and tourism companies in Germany and in Europe, and in 2016 they achieved a total turnover of €54bn.
The Bundesliga side reached the Champions League semi-finals back in 2009 with Gazprom on their shirt, and are now battling relegation from Germany’s top division with the same sponsor as the partnership continues.
The Ligue 1 club have had the longest running partnership in their league with Samsic. The deal is currently worth around €2.5m-per-year and runs until 2024, meaning it will hit 18 years at least.
The Gunners were famously sponsored by Emirates to help pay for their brand new stadium and the partnership has continued to this day.
Arsenal were the first of Emirates’ big push to sponsor major European names including Real Madrid, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain.
The Neopolitans have had Lete on the front of their shirts since way back in 2005 and the drinking water brand is now almost synonymous with the club too.
Serie A are reportedly considering banning block logo sponsorships, which puts this deal in jeopardy, but for now it stands.
German’y most successful team have had phone company T-Mobile on their shirts since way back in 2002. Since then they have won 13 league titles, ten DFB-Pokals and two Champions League titles.
They caught the eye back in 2018 when a small section of the crowd wore all white to make out the famous ‘T’ logo as a marketing campaign, too.
26 years on and it’s all coming to an end at the end of the current season.
Inter and Pirelli have a bond that will last forever and the relationship between the two companies will continue, but the shirt sponsorship will end after five Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia wins, a UEFA Cup and a Champions League.
Volkswagen have been part of the fabric of Wolfsburg as a club since way back in 1991 when they took over the shirt sponsorship of the club.
They’ve been involved forever, owning the club and the stadium, and their logo has been blazed across the front of the shirt since way back when.
The partnership is likely to run for years to come too, with the crowning moment thus far being their Bundesliga win with Edin Dzeko leading the line back in 2008.