Video games companies have been tapping into the extensive football fan base around the world for many years. Here’s a trip down memory lane and a look at some of the shirt sponsorship deals of past seasons.
The English football season is back in full swing with the Premier League kicking off over the weekend and the newly named EFL – the ‘English Football League’ now two games into the new campaign.
Football has become synonymous within video gaming thanks to the success of tactical games like Football Manager and simulated play through Pro Evo and the FIFA series. There are literally thousands of YouTube and Twitch channels dedicated to the electronic version of the beautiful game.
Top-flight clubs, Like West Ham United, are even signing up the world’s best FIFA players to represent their clubs in eSports leagues. Sean “Dragonn” Allen signed for the ‘Hammers’ last season in a first of it’s kind deal in the U.K. Sean isn’t the first FIFA player to sign for a pro club though. VFL Wolfsburg of Germany have signed three players to date, to represent the club in a similar way.
Clubs sponsoring eSports players is a modern phenomenon that may become more common if eSports leagues begin to attract larger audiences. More traditionally the relationship between football clubs and gaming companies has been the latter sponsoring the former and having their name, logo or brand emblazoned on the player’s shirts, replica merchandise and receiving worldwide televised advertising in the modern age.
It makes sense when you think about it too. The overlap between football fans and video gamers is an obvious one with the two sharing much of the same demographic. Young males with disposable income and a passion for competitive pastimes.
What many may not realise is that video games companies and manufacturers of home computers have been tapping into the football market for nearly thirty years.
1987 – 1994 | Commodore
It was in the 1987/88 season that home computer manufacturer Commodore entered the onto the football scene with their sponsorship of London club Chelsea. Chelsea, now considered a powerhouse of English football were a far less fierce prospect during this era, many years prior to the ownership of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. The sponsorship deal coincided with the club’s relegation from, what was then, the top tier of the English game, League Division 1.
Chelsea midfielder John Bumstead wearing the 87/88 Chelsea shirt sponsored by Commodore [Image: Bob Thomas / Getty Images]
The Chelsea team spent only one season in Division 2 earning an immediate return to the top flight of the English game and Commodore, famous for the C64 home computer, continued their support of the club through to the 1992/93 season.
Commodore’s sponsorship wasn’t exclusive to Chelsea in the ’80s. The computing firm at the peak of their success took the brand overseas too – as similar shirt deals were agreed with German side Bayern Munich towards the end of the decade, and with French side Paris St Germain as late as the 1993/94 season.
Bayern Munich and Paris St. Germain were also sponsored by Commodore in the late ’80s and early ’90s respectively
1993 – 1994 | Amiga
Whilst Commodore was emblazoned on the Paris St. Germain shirt for the 1993/94 season in France, the logo on Chelsea’s shirt switched from the computer manufacturer’s name to that of their flagship product, their family of home computers known as ‘Amiga’. For the final season of Commodore’s sponsorship of the club, the team would play their games wearing the word on their chests and the small ‘C’ logo of the company just above it.
Chelsea finished the ’93/94 season in an unremarkable mid-table position of the Premier League, the newly formed top tier of English football which had come into being just the season before.