Most Famous Tottenham Sponsors: Then and Now
In the modern day, football shirt sponsorship is just a natural part of the game. The cynical ones amongst us would also suggest that it’s a big driver in the constant sales of replica kit. Teams change their design every season and with a constant conveyor belt of sponsors, it helps push those sales because ‘every true fan has to have the latest shirt’.
Whatever your views on that might be, the history of shirt sponsorship is an interesting one and as far as Tottenham are concerned, it all started with a long term and loyal partner.
Kettering Town were the first English football club to adopt a shirt sponsor back in 1976. Take up was slow among the bigger sides and Spurs waited until 1983 to get involved. Brewers Holsten were the first company to back the club as the partnership began with a Friday night live game against Liverpool.
Holsten were to stay with the club right through until 1995 so they saw Tottenham through some good and bad times. One such occasion came in the 1987 FA Cup final when Spurs went down 2-3 to Coventry City. It was bad enough that Tottenham had lost the game but for the sponsors, it was a PR disaster as some shirts failed to show any sponsor’s logo.
Presumably, a financial exchange went some way towards rectifying the situation before Tottenham returned to Wembley in 1991. Eleven men, all with Holsten logos, took to the pitch and eventually overcame Nottingham Forest by two goals to one.
The beer giants stuck with Spurs from the start of the Premier League in 1992 before eventually calling time in 1995. They remain our longest serving sponsor and in the modern era, that’s a record and one that is unlikely to be beaten.
Kit sales leapt during Holsten’s reign and purchases of retro shirts also remain steady. The classic white shirt remains a favourite but the light blue away kit can still be seen extensively in the seats at the brand new stadium.
HP Steady the Ship
1995 – 1999 was a period of turmoil in many respects and perhaps that’s why Hewlett Packard aren’t remembered with as much fondness. The computing giant came on board at a time when the digital revolution was beginning to take hold but it wasn’t such a happy time for Spurs, both on and off the pitch.
There was something of a revolving door policy in terms of managers and the club was struggling to make an impression at the right end of the table. Like Holsten, Hewlett Packard did enjoy their day out at Wembley, however, as Spurs won the League Cup in 1998.
Once again, the classic white shirt is in evidence throughout HP’s tenure although fans and buyers of retro kit might prefer the flashy, purple away version.
A Favourite Returns
Hewlett Packard failed to agree terms when their contract expired in 1999 so Spurs returned to their former sponsor, Holsten. The new arrangement would last for a further three years, covering the George Graham and Glenn Hoddle years at White Hart Lane. Tottenham also acquired a new chairman as Daniel Levy stepped into the hot seat.
The deal ran down in 2002 and at the same time, Spurs parted ways with kit manufacturer Adidas. There were two new partners to find moving forward and in Holsten’s second spell with the club, the dark blue away shirt with fancy orange piping is arguably the best design.
The holiday company Thomson were the next to get involved, taking over the reins in 2002. Important funds were pumped into the club but there was a problem – Thomson’s logo was red. A section of fans were unhappy to say the least and boycotts were threatened in terms of shirt purchases.
There are cases where sponsors have bent the rules to appease fans in terms of preferred colours most notably at Everton where the One to One company dispensed with their usual red. Thomson didn’t follow that route and while no-one knows for certain if sales of replica kit were badly affected, it’s fair to say that this wasn’t the most popular sponsor in the club’s history.
The contract lasted until 2006 and you could purchase away kits with the logo in either blue or white but it’s unlikely that you’ll see too many fans wearing a Thomson shirt at the new stadium.
The Mansion Group have been very active in terms of sports sponsorship and Spurs were one of their early clients. Taking over from Thomson, Mansion ran until 2010 at a time when kit was now changing on an annual basis.While the contract was relatively brief, we therefore have quite a substantial back catalogue of shirts to enjoy. The home kit carried subtle changes to the classic white but it also includes a personal favourite – the half white / half pale blue design that was a hark back to the 1880s.
In terms of away kit, there were some unusual options here including black, brown and dark blue. It was an interesting period in terms of shirts and many of the Mansion offerings, including that ‘Blackburn Rovers’ anniversary kit, are worn proudly today.
After Mansion came Autonomy but their deal as shirt sponsor lasted for just one season in 2010/11. As such, there’s not much to report on with the home kit being fairly unremarkable while it was backed up by a choice of away kits in light blue and dark blue.
Autonomy gave way to Aurasma in 2011 and they stuck around for longer – even though no-one really remembers what they do. With Tottenham now in Europe, there was an all-white variant of the home kit while one memorable away shirt featured notable black and grey halves.
Aurasma only lasted two seasons before another returning sponsor saw Hewlett Packard come back into the fold. The trend for changing sponsors as regularly as kits continued, however, as HP would only rejoin us for the 2013/14 campaign.
Like Autonomy, this was a forgettable time in terms of design with standard light blue and dark blue away shirts in the shops.
Up to Date
We now come full circle with current shirt sponsors AIA taking over at the start of the 2014/15 season. Like many on this list, they’ve stayed true to the classic home design with just some very subtle variations on the iconic white shirt. Perhaps the most popular of these came along in 2015/16, featuring the diagonal black lines and this is arguably the most common replica to be seen from the AIA era – aside from the current option.
Crossing over to the away shirt design and while the 2018/19 green and blue kit wasn’t met with the greatest of enthusiasm, Tottenham’s run in the Champions League has given it an iconic status and it’s certain to have boosted those replica sales.
Otherwise, AIA have produced a relatively uninspiring series of away shirts although the light blue design with dark blue bands might stand out for all the wrong reasons. Overall, AIA have the benefit of being associated with a successful period in Tottenham’s history so let’s hope it’s set to continue.