Fan article by MilanFan8.
Milan is one of Europe’s largest and most successful soccer clubs with a rich and interesting history that stretches back to 1899.
The club was founded by two Englishmen who were living in Italy and wanted to play soccer in the winter after the cricket season had ended. Quickly, the club grew larger and developed a passionate following amongst the local Milanese. The club still honors its English roots today by using the English spelling of Milan in its name, instead of the native Milano.
Milan even spawned its local rival, Inter, after a dispute between club members in 1908, beginning one of European soccer’s most intense rivalries.
Milan Break Commercial Barriers in European Football
As one of Europe’s biggest soccer clubs, Milan has always been at the forefront of the sport’s commercial developments and was the first Italian club, and one of the first clubs in Europe, to have a commercial sponsor on their jerseys in 1981.
Since then, Milan have engaged in a number of lucrative partnerships with some of the world’s biggest brand names, and as European soccer increased its global popularity, Milan has increased the size of its sponsorship contracts and consistently signed some of the biggest sponsorship deals in the game.
BWin Bet Big on Milan
In 2006, Milan signed what at the time was a record-breaking deal – a jersey sponsorship deal with the online gambling company BWin. This deal was one of the largest sponsorships in Italian and European soccer at the time and marked a first for an online gambling company.
It represented a big gamble on BWin’s part, as online gambling was still in its infancy, though it was quickly becoming more popular across the world. Sponsoring a club that has the size and stature of Milan would give the company massive exposure on screens and shirts across the world but at a price that would make many larger companies think twice about committing so much money to a sponsorship.
The deal paid off for both parties, however, with BWin receiving so much exposure and recognition from the sponsorship that it led them to sponsor the Spanish giants Real Madrid as well as Milan the next year.
These two teams have a long history of dominating European soccer and the UEFA Champions League, which is one of the most highly viewed competitions in the world. The bookmakers BWin enjoyed huge exposure at this time, culminating with Milan winning the UEFA Champions League in the 2006-2007 season and going on to win the FIFA Club World Cup in 2007 wearing BWin emblazoned jerseys at every game.
BWin enjoyed sponsoring the Milan jersey until 2010, when the massive airline Emirates made Milan an offer they couldn’t refuse. BWin and Milan parted ways amicably, and BWin still enjoys some association with the club as historical pictures of their Champions League, European Super Cup, and Club World Cup wins will always feature the brand’s name on the jerseys.
Entering the VWin Era
European soccer has been enjoying a global growth in popularity since the mid-90s, and one of its biggest emerging markets is Asia.
There is a huge following for European clubs in Asia in both their domestic leagues and European competition, and this has led Milan to make another record setting deal with the Asian online gambling platform VWin.
At the beginning of 2019, Milan announced that they had signed a multi-year, multi-million-dollar deal with the emerging Asian gambling powerhouse VWin, a sign that Milan are taking the Asian market very seriously and that Asian brands are becoming bigger players themselves in global markets. Though it is not a jersey sponsorship deal, this association between the two parties lists VWin as Milan’s official betting partner and will help bring the brand to Western soccer audiences as well as show Milan’s commitment to increasing engagement with Asia’s European soccer fanbase.
As one of Europe’s biggest and most prestigious clubs, Milan has always been at the cutting edge of soccer both on the field and off it. They have a rich history of 18 league titles in Serie A, the top Italian league, as well as seven Champions League titles.
They were one of the earliest clubs in Europe to see the possibilities that jersey sponsorship offered and quickly invested that fresh revenue stream into the club to assert their dominance in the Italian league and across all European competitions.
In the nineties, as players became brands themselves, they began to invest the proceeds from their super-sized sponsorship deals into signing some of the best soccer players in the world and expanding their own brand throughout the globe, further cementing their place in history as one of European soccer’s super clubs.