Don’t do it? Chinese Super League extends Nike kit deal but not everyone is happy
Beijing Guoan and some fans have expressed their reservations against another league-wide deal with US giant that also provides kit for national team
The Chinese Super League will reportedly sign on for another ten years with US sportswear manufacturer Nike according to reports in the Beijing Youth Daily, with the deal to begin next June 2019 ahead of the current one expiring at the end of 2019.
The deal is expected be “5+5”, meaning it can be renewed after five years to last through the 2028 campaign.
Sina reports that the new deal will double the current deal and is worth a total RMB 3 billion (US$470 million) over ten years. The clubs are set to share RMB 2.2 billion worth of equipment and RMB 800 million in cash over the decade.
Nike has been the equipment provider for the Chinese Super League for the last ten seasons in a deal that sees them pay a reported US$30m annually split evenly between the clubs and provide all of their equipment.
The partners signed an unprecedented deal ahead of the 2009 season, which AFP reported at the time was worth an annual US$15 million annually and could be extended for 10 years to eventually total US$200m. The deal was extended in 2011 and since then Nike have provided the kits for all 16 teams in the top flight.
Previously clubs had different kit sponsors, including Kappa, Umbro, Adidas and Nike. Many switched to Nike ahead of the 2009 season – not Beijing Guoan who finished champions wearing Adidas – by the 2012 season all of the teams were in Nike kits.
According to Guangzhou newspaper Soccer News on Sina Weibo, the CSL are said to have asked the 16 clubs about renewing the deal and only Beijing Guoan said no, believing the even split not to be a fair reflection of their comparative commercial power.
Recent social media posts speculate that the capital club will try to break away from the deal later this year by finding an alternative kit provider.
While Guoan sell plenty of merchandise, some CSL team jerseys are not readily available – with clubs such as Guangzhou R&F manufacturing their own-brand versions for fans.
Better supported clubs such as Beijing Guoan have official fan shops, while Shanghai SIPG and Shenhua shirts are available in the city’s Nike stores.
The Nike.cn website offers a handful of the 16 team shirts for sale and only SIPG, Shenhua, Evergrande and Guoan have more merchandise than jerseys, something that backs up Guoan’s claim that they are worth more than an evenly split deal.
The tiers below the top flight do not have a collective kit deal. Instead, clubs are allowed to pursue the manufacturer of their choice and kits such as Umbro, Kelme and Joma have been seen in recent years.
One criticism among fans of the Nike kits is the generic designs that they offer clubs and another is that all of the CSL away kits are white.
Today’s kits are a far cry from the 2013 kits which featured individual designs and heritage detailing.
Nike replaced Adidas as the kit provider for China’s national football teams in 2015, ending a 30-year association with the German giants.
Though not officially announced yet, the kit design for China National Team in 2018-19 has been leaked. The new home kit is still classic Chinese red rimmed by yellow. The away kit, however, applied black as the main color for China for the 1st time with 'dragon tattoo' on it. pic.twitter.com/UWlwg376uf
— Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) 6 April 2018
It was has not always been a happy one, though. The Nike deal meant that players had to wear Nike brand boots when playing for the national team rather than any other manufacturer. Brands that wanted their players to continue sporting their boots would have to pay the CFA RMB10m.
That came after a 2010 report that alleged bribery relating to a Nike contract with the CFA.
Meanwhile, rumours of the new China away kit got everyone hot under the collar earlier this year, with opinion divided on the leaked design.