NFL UK announced yesterday that fans will be able to purchase custom jerseys for all 32 NFL teams for the first time outside the US. As the Official On-Field partner of the NFL, Nike has responded to the strong growth in sales of NFL merchandise in the UK in 2013. The complete jersey range was developed in response to demand for greater access to NFL products in Europe and will mean UK fans no longer have to order merchandise from the US domestic store. Fans will also have access to the personalisation service, available online from nike.com.
The NFL is the leader in sports apparel sales in the US (grossing over $1 billion in sales in 2012) representing 41 per cent of the overall sports merchandise market, selling more than MLB, NBA, MLS and the NHL combined. But its international sales of NFL products are also encouraging, showing strong growth in Europe and predicted to grow further by 12 per cent in the 2014/15 season.
Teri Niadna, Business Development Director at NFL UK said: “we have grown our UK fan base by 30% in the past three years and we are delighted to be able to deliver a complete range of jerseys in the UK… just in time for the NFL International Series at Wembley this autumn”.
But Nike do not enjoy the same monopoly in football (soccer) shirts. The World Cup Final in Brasil proved to be an all-Adidas affair as the German firm sponsored the match kits of both Germany and runners-up Argentina, but Nike is still leading the charge in Europe by the skin of its teeth.
The to-and-fro contest between the two sporting giants continued this year as Nike overtook its rival as market leader, having lost the lead in the 2009-10 season. Nike sponsors 26 clubs compared to Adidas’s 18, in spite of Adidas taking two of Nike’s biggest clients, Manchester United and Juventus.
The American sportswear giant has overtaken Germany’s Adidas the market leader for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Nike now supplies shirts for 26 clubs compared with Adidas’s 18, while third-placed Puma supplies just nine.
But Adidas is fighting back, having signed two of Nike’s biggest clients - a whopping £750m 10-year deal with Manchester United starting from next season, and a 140m-euro (£112m) deal with Italian champions Juventus starting from 2015-16. Similarly, the Premier League (responsible for five million shirt sales – more than any other league) hosts five teams sponsored by Adidas whilst only three are sponsored by Nike.
Andrew Walsh, football expert at Repucom. “Whilst Nike may be winning in the quantity stakes, Adidas is certainly not bowing out in the running for market superiority, far from it in fact. The brand is now starting to flex its muscles by supplying Europe’s biggest clubs,” he said.