Talk about a Cinderella story! The unlikely season championship in English Premier League soccer, won inspiringly by a once-lowly team from Leicester—for the first time in 132 years—is cheering not only the team’s growing native fan base but also legions of fans halfway around the world in Thailand.
That’s because King Power, a duty-free retail company based in Thailand and chaired by billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, is the owner, naming rights and shirt sponsor of the Leicester City Football Club.
Better known as the Foxes, the team has generated massive excitement in soccer-mad Thailand — and beyond, with media coverage of the team’s EPL victory in TIME and other media outlets.
Leicester and the iconic Manchester United franchise played to a 1-1 draw, but soon the conclusion of another draw, between second-place Totenham Hotspur and Chelsea, handed the Foxes a title that seemed impossible after they’d struggled to survive in the top-shelf Premier League last season. The team—called the “Siamese Foxes” by some because of their huge Thai fan base—a year ago were relegated to 5,000-to-1 odds to win the Premier League title.
Leicester City. Champions of England. pic.twitter.com/WRwfysTn2N
— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 2, 2016
It’s not just the lucky punters who bet on Leicester to win who stand to make a windfall. According to AdNews, “UK sports marketing agency Repucom estimates the title could be worth up to £150 million ($290 million) in prize money, TV revenue, Champions League participation and boosts to ticket and hospitality sales. For the club’s major sponsors, the benefits are obvious – much greater exposure than they could have imagined. The TV audience for Premier League games is 4.7 billion.”
Indeed, “As Premier League champions, Leicester’s share of next season’s $7.4 billion TV deal will be several times more than Vichai (Srivaddhanaprabha) first paid for the club,” according to The Bangkok Post.
Thailand also presents an opportunity to expand the club’s brand — consider all those fans yelling “Leicester! Leicester!” in the streets of Bangkok, according to Time.com. Some no doubt believed that the Foxes’ cause had been helped by the fact that a handful of Buddhist monks traveled with Srivaddhanaprabha to the club’s King Power Stadium in England in recent months to pray over the pitch.
King Power is keen to leverage the Foxes’ win at home in Thailand because of how the Leicester club has engaged Thai fans, in part as what Time.com called “a temporary respite from their country’s real-world struggles.” Among other issues, Thailand currently is enduring its worst drought in 65 years.
The owner “surely will fly his squad out to Thailand this summer to show off the Premier League trophy,” the magazine said. “A sea of royal blue shirts” in the Foxes’ color “will greet them.” There are reports of a league investigation of “shady sponsorship deals” around financial fair play for the 2013-2014 season involving King Power, according to SBNation.com, but nothing that’s likely to take the sheen off the club’s sponsor.
The travel retail group King Power is Leicester’s naming rights and shirt sponsor. Throughout the season, 64% of all King Power digital content engagement was down to to its relationship with Leicester City, according to Amobee Brand Intelligence data.
Sentiment for the brand was 27% positive and 54% neutral, which closely matched that of Leicester City Foxes.
Although this is high for a brand few know outside of Asia, because King Power is owned by Leicester’s Thai billionaire owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, it’s unlikely the full value of naming rights sponsorship will be realised, says Gemba CEO Rob Mills.
“There will be tactical opportunities to up sell in some sponsorship categories, but the large sustainable lifts will only come when the market is confident that the improved performance is sustainable,” he tells AdNews.
Read more at http://www.adnews.com.au/news/leicester-s-epl-title-worth-290m-but-what-s-the-value-to-sponsors#xfZBFi5WIlAWcjxT.99
When Leicester announced a three-year sponsorship deal with King Power in 2010, its press release stated:
As part of the sponsorship, the King Power logo will be seen all over the world, in 167 territories, via the extensive television coverage that English football enjoys. The popularity of English football has never been higher and the King Power logo will feature on the home, away and third shirts in addition to both perimeter boards and interview backdrop.
King Power will in essence become a part of the fabric of the Club and the excitement about the partnership is palpable.
King Power Chairman Vichai Raksriaksorn added, ‘We see this three year deal as strategic and vital for our powerful global brand. King Power is based in Thailand and our name is synonymous with quality, providing brand name products to millions of tourists at 76 outlets throughout Thailand’s main airports.’
‘Our interest in football is well established as sponsor to the Thai national football league and this sponsorship of Leicester City illustrates our ambitions and those of the club. This is an exciting and dynamic opportunity for us and I hope a relationship which can deliver much more for all sides including the fans.’
Since then, the club’s Thai jersey and stadium sponsor has attracted more investment from Thailand, with other sponsors including the Thai tourism board, Air Asia, Singha Beer and DHL, the German parcel delivery service with a strong legacy in Asia.
Still, Leicester fans still have a way to go in the slavish devotion department compared with the bonkers fans of Club Atletico Tigre, which is based in greater Buenos Aires.
Dubbed “Passion Ticket,” the club has launched a promotion in which fans can have a microchip inserted under their skin that serves as a ticket to allow them entry into the stadium—without need for identification or a traditional season ticket.