Regardless of what financial or sporting measure we sue, Chelsea are one of the biggest clubs in world football, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. In fact, given the massive amounts of cash that the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid generate, the Blues could double their commercial revenues and still not be top of the financial league. Still, that’s the goal that Chris Townsend has set for himself as commercial director of Chelsea.
“Over the next seven to 10 years [we want Chelsea] to be a top four or five club in Europe [by revenues], rather than ranked eighth.”
That ranking comes from the latest Deloitte Money League report (Jan 2017), which is based on 2015-16 season figures. Chelsea’s 8th overall ranking is a combination of matchday revenue (ranked 6th), broadcast revenue (ranked 6th), and commercial revenue (ranked 7th). But despite a record season on the books with €447.4m in total revenue, Chelsea have not been in the top five since 2012. Given the lack of Champions League football last season (2016-17), that’s ranking is unlikely to improve anytime soon — the other two components are dependent on TV contracts, which continue to grow across the board, and the new stadium, which is only slowly getting underway).
So that’s where Chris Townsend comes in. The former Sky Sports and London Olympics commercial director replaced Christian Purslow in that function earlier this year at Chelsea, and with the transition complete, has set about securing key new partners and sponsors to grow the club’s commercial revenue.
“Manchester United, Manchester City and others have anywhere between 50 and 70 [sponsors]. We plan to focus on more premium brands in a far more limited range of categories.”
-Chris Townsend; source: Financial Times
Chelsea have made headlines in recent years with massive new deals in kits (Nike), shirt and shirt-sleeve sponsors (Yokohama Tyres and their subsidiary Alliance Tyres), and training kit sponsors (Carabao). Chelsea have also partnered with Delta, Hublot, beats, EA Sports, Singha, Wipro, just to name a few. Expect more such partnerships in the future as Chelsea look to keep pace in this ever crazier and richer world of top level football.