As fans, we support our teams in a variety of ways. Spending a small fortune on tickets, getting a team logo tattooed on, buying the top cable / satellite packages to get all the games, and waking up early (or staying up late depending on where you live) just to yell at the television are all activities of the modern-day sports fanatic. One of the more popular, and least painful, methods of showing your support is to wear the team jersey. Like donning a suite of armor, putting on our favorite jersey on game day can make us feel like a warrior preparing to join our team on the field of battle. The opposition fears the team colors and your significant other even takes a step back when you wear it; although that probably has more to do with you refusing to wash the jersey for fear it will lose its good luck powers.
Sports jersey sales are part of a multi-billion dollar industry. As the most widely followed sport in the world, soccer (or football) plays a big role in this industry. Adidas and Nike, the two leading sporting goods manufacturers, control three-quarters of the soccer market and had a combined $4.2 billion in soccer related income in 2012. With a rapidly expanding market, thanks to ever growing television coverage, this figure is likely to continue growing in the years ahead as soccer leagues, such as the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga, continue to gain world-wide appeal. It is no surprise then that kit manufacturers, like Adidas and Nike, are willing to spend upwards of $50 million a year per club to ensure their logo is the one on the players’ chests. Likewise, kit sponsors, like Emirates Airline and Samsung, are willing to pay an additional $30 to $50 million so that their logo is on the front of a team’s jersey. In effect, each jersey sold becomes a walking billboard.
Naturally, kit manufacturers and sponsors are interested in who sells the most jerseys because that translates into more advertising for them. In the soccer world, data shows that Adidas and Nike dominate the top 10 club jerseys sold. It is important to keep in mind when going through this list that the figures are for official replica jerseys only. This does not include the tens of millions of fake and knock-off jerseys which flood the market every year. So which clubs dominate soccer jersey sales?
10. AC Milan, 350,000 sales per year
Nicknamed the Rossoneri, Serie A’s AC Milan have one of the classic and most distinguishable jerseys within the soccer world. The red and black have been traditional colors of the club since its foundation in 1899. Milan’s traditional away jersey is all white with black and white trim. There is also a third jersey which is mostly gold in color. Like most clubs, the third jersey changes in color and design from year to year. The club’s kit is manufactured by Adidas and sponsored by Dubai-based, Emirates Airline.
9. Inter Milan, 425,000 sales per year
Officially known as F.C. Internazionale Milano, Inter Milan are the league and city rivals of AC Milan. Inter’s jersey is made up of vertical black and blue bars which lends itself to the club nickname, the Nerazzurri (black and blue). The away jersey is white with black and blue used for the trim on the sleeves and collar. Fitting the rivalry with Milan, Inter’s jersey is manufactured by Nike, primary competitor to Adidas. Sponsorship is provided by Milan-based tire manufacturer Pirelli.
Inter have averaged official jersey sales of 425,000 a year. In addition to league and Champions League success, Inter’s jersey sales have been helped by the famous names like Esteban Cambiasso, Luis Figo and Javier Zanetti.
8. Juventus, 480,000 sales per year
Another Serie A club, Juventus were founded in 1897 and play their home games in Turin, Italy. Nicknamed the Bianconeri because of their black and white team colors, Juventus have won a record 29 league titles in their history. Their jerseys are made by Nike and feature the distinct vertical black and white bars. The away jersey is yellow and the third jersey is black. Shirt sponsorship is provided by Jeep, a division of Chrysler Group.
Domestic success and the international fame of players like Carlos Tevez, Alessandro Del Piero and Gigi Buffon all ensure Juventus makes it onto this list. Average yearly official jersey sales stand at 480,000.
1 Arsenal, 800,000 sales per year
Founded in 1886, Arsenal are one of the most successful clubs in English football with 13 league titles and 10 FA Cups. Nicknamed the Gunners, Arsenal play their home matches at the Emirates Stadium in North London. Their home jersey is red with white sleeves, while their away jersey is yellow. Current manufacturer is Nike, although this will change to Puma next year. Like Milan, Arsenal’s shirt sponsor is provided by Dubai-based Emirates Airline.
Expanding global popularity of the EPL helps Arsenal up to #7 on this list with 800,000 official jerseys sold per year. Popular names on the back of these jerseys include Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil.
6. Liverpool, 810,000 sales per year
Liverpool are another giant of English football. In addition to their 18 league titles, the Reds are the most successful English team in Europe with 11 Cups, including 5 European/Champions League titles. Liverpool’s home jersey is red, often with some form of white trim on the collar and sleeves. The away jersey is white, black and red. The third jersey is a bizarre creation of black, white, purple and grey. Traditionally manufactured by Adidas, the Reds now have their kits made by Warrior. Sponsorship is provided by British bank, Standard Chartered.
5. Bayern Munich, 880,000 sales per year
Officially known as Fußball-Club Bayern München e.V., Bayern Munich are currently ‘the’ powerhouse of the Bundesliga. They are the most successful German club with 23 league titles and 16 cups. Bayern’s home jersey is traditionally red with white trim. The away jersey is white with black trim, somewhat resembling the German National Team jersey. The team’s jerseys are manufactured by Adidas and shirt sponsorship is provided by Deutche Telekom.
Bayern Munich jersey sales have been very strong with an average of 880,000 official jerseys sold a year. Players helping to drive these sales include Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
4. Chelsea, 910,000 sales per year
With their purchase in 2003 by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Chelsea quickly became one of the powers of the EPL and Europe. Nicknamed the Blues, honors include 4 league titles, 7 FA Cups and a Champions League title. Chelsea’s home jersey is blue with white trim. The away jersey is white with red and blue trim, while the third shirt is black. Kits are manufactured by Adidas and currently sponsored by South Korean conglomerate Samsung.
Chelsea’s rise to footballing power has also seen a rise in merchandise sales, including jerseys. With players like Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and Eden Hazard fueling sales, it is no wonder Chelsea make a yearly sale of 910,000 official jerseys.
3. Barcelona, 1.15 million sales per year
The first club on this list to break into the millions, Barcelona are a La Liga and European giant. NicknamedBarça or Blaugrana, Barcelona have won 22 league titles, 26 Copa Del Rey titles and 4 European Cup / Champions League titles. Their home jersey is blue and red, formed into distinct vertical bars. The current away jersey is made up of yellow and red vertical bars, the colors and design of the Catalan flag. Barcelona’s kit is manufactured by Nike and sponsored by Qatar Airways.
The club’s success and worldwide fame drives most of its official jersey sales. It doesn’t hurt that they have three-time FIFA Ballon d'Or and World Player of the Year Lionel Messi motivating fans to buy jerseys either.
T1. Manchester United, 1.4 million sales per year
Despite recently falling on tough times domestically, Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in England and the world. Originally founded in 1878, the Red Devils currently play their matches at the 75,000-seat Old Trafford. Since being founded in 1878, United have won 20 league titles, 11 FA Cups, and 3 European Cup / Champions League titles. Their home kit is red with black trim, while the away kit is blue and black. United’s kit is manufactured by Nike and current shirt sponsor is insurance and brokerage firm AON. Chevrolet is set to sponsor United’s jerseys in the 2014/15 season.
United’s average yearly official jersey sales of 1.4 million is not hard to believe considering the club’s success and worldwide appeal. Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa are players who have the best selling jerseys.
T1. Real Madrid, 1.4 million sales per year
Tied at the top with Manchester United is Real Madrid. Nicknamed Los Blancos, Madrid are the richest football club in the world, according to accountancy firm Deloitte. They have enjoyed considerable success in La Liga, securing a record 32 league titles in addition to 18 Copa del Rey titles. In Europe, Madrid have won 9 European Cups / Champions League titles, the most of any team. Their home jersey is white with grey stripes and orange and black details. The away kit is blue with white stripes and orange trim. A third jersey is orange and black. Madrid’s kits are manufactured by Adidas and sponsored by Emirates Airlines.
Los Blancos have had many famous names play for them over the years. Like Barcelona, there is one primary name today which drives most of the 1.4 million jerseys sold. Cristiano Ronaldo, the FIFA Ballon d'Or and World Player of the Year winner, is the best selling jersey and most common name emblazoned on the back of official Real Madrid replica jerseys.