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Microsoft to sponsor Seattle Sounders FC

Microsoft_logo Seattle_soundersfc

Today’s Wall Street Journal is reporting that software giant Microsoft will be the jersey sponsor for MLS expansion club Seattle Sounders FC.

How much is the deal? According to report, the deal is worth about $4 million a season for five years.

The size of the deal is impressive, but the deal itself shouldn’t be considered that much of a surprise given the fact that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is part owner of the new expansion club.

When Seattle kicks off its expansion season in 2009, the Sounders will have "XBox 360 Live" on the front of their jerseys.

What do you think of the news? Share your thoughts below.


  1. So who doesn’t have a corporate sponsor on their jersey yet?

    San Jose, Houston, Dallas and New England are the only ones that come to mind. Is that it?

    And I wonder who’ll sponsor the Philly team…

    I’m waiting for the Sons of Ben to stir that pot.

  2. It’ll be interesting to see the full kits modeled live. Those images don’t give a full idea of what it’ll look like on the pitch.

  3. great deal for them. not shocking. they are already the richest club in the league by a country mile. they already could buy whoever they wanted now they’ll have a little more in the kitty to get even more.

    I get the feeling the Sounders are going to be a lot better than most expansion teams since they are being allowed to bring up people from their USL team as they see fit.

  4. The reason there are corporate logos on soccer jerseys is that it is lucrative — nothing to do with commercial breaks (or the lack thereof).

    In reference to the gambling sites that sponsor teams — does anyone else find this strange? American sports leagues are so incredibly careful to distance themselves from gambling and yet some of the biggest clubs in the world are sponsored by betting websites. Conflict of interest?

    Doh, the game is starting . . .

  5. As a Seattle guy, I think this is great for a number of reasons.

    First, who cares about the cap – it’s $4 million that can be used for a DP or to develop the club (i.e. the youth program). That’s $4 million that many other club don’t have, and they can spend it however they want.

    Second, I love the fact that local Seattle business, one of the biggest ones, is investing in the team. Whether it’s MS or XBox, the money is coming from Microsoft, and that type of involvement can only be good in the long run.

    Third, this team hasn’t played a minute of soccer yet, but they (can I say “we” if I have season tickets?) have more momentum already than most teams in MLS. Since they will probably stink in years 1 and 2, it’s nice to have something to get excited about before the product hits the field and has time to improve.

  6. bwin is a gambling site… same thing with mansion (tottenham hotspur), 888 (sevilla), and the sponsor for aston villa (who i cant remember off the top of my head). americans cannot gamble on these sites, thats why you have never heard of them.

    the reason why soccer jerseys have a sponsor on the front is because there are no commercial breaks in soccer, unlike baseball, am football, basketball, etc…

  7. I don’t know what Bwin does either. But I was thinking more along the lines of Carlsburg, Samsung, and AIG

  8. I too don’t necessarily think that having a “globally recognized brand” makes a difference. After all, what the heck is “Bwin” (Real Madrid’s sponsor) anyway?

    However, it probably makes more of a difference for a new team in a new league than for a recognized team in a recognized league. So good for Seattle and MLS.

  9. I think you are giving Paul Allen too much credit here. While he owns a lot of MS shares, he is not very involved in MS on day-to-day basis. Instead the deal was most likely driven by Adrian Hanauer. He is very connected in Seattle (his brother was an early investor in aquantive which MS bought for ~$6B last year). The quote in the press release is from Robbie Bach who runs the division inside MS that owns the XBOX. They have their own marketing budget and given that the shirts will say “XBOX 360 Live” this money came out of his pocket. So I would say that the deal was done between Adrian and Robbie. It also makes a lot of sense to use the XBOX brand as it is all about entertainment vs the Microsoft brand which is a bit less targeted and not a great fit for soccer (also an entertainment product).

  10. Only the bigger teams with international followings have huge names. What international company is gonna pay Derby to be on their jersey when they were gonna be relegated after one season.

    Another advantage of no relegation in MLS. Once it gets bigger internationally, companies can sponsor teams without fear of disappearing from the league.

  11. Good for Seattle, nice to have worldwide recognized sponsors. Too bad the actual money doesnt mean anything. Like someone else said, lets see the cap go up!!!

    Also gotta say i like the colors chosen for the kits.

  12. Someone said early on that it’s good to have the globally recognized brands on the jerseys and I agree and mentioned Glidden, Xango, and Herbalife as non-global brands, which they may be, I don’t know.

    But look at some of the shirt sponsors in the EPL.

    Manchester City – Thomas Cook

    Derby County – Derbyshire Building Society

    Portsmouth – OKI

    Wigan – JJB

    And there are others. I only know what those companies do because I was curious and looked.

  13. oh, and the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL do have jersey sponsors…what, you think that every NFL team just prefers Reebok?

  14. Oh, and as for the logo, someone a while ago switched the background colors – blue behind the needle, green underneath that… and it looked MUCH better.

    Still, I don’t mind it.

  15. LOTS of people called this one way back when the Sounders were speculated to be joining the league. Great to see it actually happen!

    (and so glad that it’s the Xbox, not just Microsoft)

    Here’s hoping Apple sponsors either NYC2, or San Jose… both make perfect sense to me!

  16. Chase, I was about to say the exact same thing. Could you imagine stopping play every 5 minutes to take a commercial break? I think I’d give up on MLS at that point. Hell, if wearing logos on their socks prevents that from happening, I’m all for it.

  17. The NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL all survived without corporate sponsorship on jerseys because they allowed television advertisment to change and pervert the nature of their games.

    I’ll take a huge Volkswagen, Carlsberg, XBox 360 logo on the team kit, before stoppages are officially instituted to allow for commercial breaks…

  18. AJR, you do realize that Microsoft is originally from the Seattle area, and one of the co-founders of Microsoft is co-owner of The Sounders?

    Also, Apple is originally (and still is) based in San Francisco area, so doesn’t make much sense for them to sponsor up there. They should sponsor San Jose to be honest

  19. Good deal, IMO. It’s internationally accepted, and the norm, to have shirt sponsors in soccer. Having a big name like microsoft on our kits grants us needed credibility.

  20. With advertisers on soccer jerseys, I don’t necessarily associate the team with the product, but the product with the team.

    For example, if I’m a huge Seattle fan, and MS XBOX 360 was on the jersey, I’m not that inclined to go buy a 360, if that makes sense.

    However, as a bystander, seeing that MS XBOX 360 is their sponsor and is on the jersey—much like VW on DC’s, Herbalife on LA’s, etc—That instantly gives credit to the club, league, and sport in my mind.

    Thus, I’m very happy and excited to see MS has given that sponsorship, as it’s a very highly well-known brand and adds to the legitamcy of the team.

    And to me, that’s way more important the the cash value and everything else. That stuff comes once the league is considered legit by the general mass media 🙂

  21. Globally speaking, NFL, NBA, and NHL–and MLB–are exceptions on the sporting landscape. Basketball and Hockey teams and Europe have corporate logos on the jersey’s.

    This is good for Seattle and MLS–I might buy when of their shirts just cuz it looks cool. Might buy a DC one as well.

  22. Not a big fan of gigantic corporate logos on the fronts of jerseys (yes, I know it’s here to stay). Funny how the NFL, NBA, and NHL have never done it and yet they have stayed afloat. But if they have to have one, this is a nice fit.

  23. Great for the league and team. You can almost guarantee that they will pull a profit now. the 4 mil should cover all the players salaries (not including a dp).

  24. Great for the league, great for Seattle.

    So if Seattle falls behind in their opener next year will the players turn to the sideline for the adjustments only to be greeted by cries of ‘Reboot!!!’?

    As for the quality of the sponsors there’s even huge discrepencies in the Premiership where the practice of jersey sponsorship is well established and accepted. Its all about who’s got the budget at the time the for sale sign is posted on the front of the shirt. Any sponsor is a good one.

    New England, Kansas City, San Jose, Colorado and Dallas step it up. You’re being beat to the punch by a team that won’t kick a ball for ten months.

  25. I am a RBNY fan but Seattle’s crest/colors looks awesome. Their kits should be cool.

    Can’t wait for Henry to NY.

  26. This is extremely good news for the team and the league. I only wish Red Bull wasn’t the NAME of my club. :

    Anyone banking on Henry playing anywhere but New York (if he even comes to this league at all) is just setting themselves up for disappointment. Better to except reality now, and be pleasantly surprised later if he does join your club.

    I still want to se Seattle sign Kasey Keller.

  27. Does this mean we can expect an MLS video game coming out for the XBOX360? And in the game as your team gets better and better more and more streamers get thrown onto opposing players during corner kicks. And you could change your streamer settings in the gameplay options so that you could eventually throw enough streamers to bury opponents alive.

    Yeah, that would be awesome!!

  28. This is great news. Volkswagen, Red Bull, Microsoft are all internationally recognized brands (not so much Glidden, Xango, Herbalife). I bet the financial state of the league is improving fast as teams move to SSS and get big name sponsors. Go MLS!!

  29. Well – if Seattle wants to go after a “Beckham Rule” player, Thierry Henry…there’s some cash for it right there.

    Either way – if the fans come out like they appear they will – this will just add to financial stability of the club.

  30. On the Jumbotron at Qwest Field – the blue screen of death.

    Seriously, it’s good news for the Sounders and the league.

  31. I think at this point it is great for the team and league to have revenue outside of the fans and media. I wonder if Sony and Nintendo will also become sponsors for other teams.


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