Soccer Business Bits: MLS Merchandise Sales, Posing in Briefs & More

The Sports Business Journal is reporting on MLS first quarter merchandise sales.  The article includes a number of interesting tidbits, including that the Union has already sold seven figures worth of merchandise this year and it is expected to reach eight figures.  The article also reports that MLS has tripled its reach into soccer speciality stores while adding to its footprint with big box retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart.  The article also reports that 1,000 MLS fans have purchased $249 Zune MP3 players with MLS logos.

We often discuss on this site that any exposure for soccer is good exposure, but this recent Vanity Fair spread stretches that argument.  Calling to mind a number of previous unfortunate soccer photos spreads that include American soccer players. More importantly, the magazine includes a number of features on the World Cup that will bring the beautiful game to the American mainstream.

Finally, MLS’s annual mini-tourney Futbolito is kicking off.  The 13 event tournament, presented by league sponsor Panasonic, attracted 50,000 players of all ages last year.  The competition is now eight years old.  Associate level partners include adidas, Degree Deodorant, Fox Sports en Español, Glidden Paints, Makita, NAPA Auto Parts, Pepsi, The Home Depot, Visa, Volkswagen and Xbox 360

MLS retains Panasonic as Primary Sponsor


In a sign that MLS is still a valuable commodity among sponsors, the League announced that Panasonic has re-upped for a three year run as the “Official Consumer Electronics” partner of MLS.

Given the econmic climate, long term sponsorship deals are an important source of ongoing revenue. Given the amounts of scrutiny aimed at publicly traded companies and the pressures on companies to cut back on high profile advertising and events (think about the uproar over CitiField), big name sponsors may be harder to come by.   This is especially so in light of recent news that Panasonic was shedding 15,000 jobs over the next 13 months. According to Sports Business Journal, the deal is valued at almost $3 million per year.