Vitality signs record deal to be Women's FA Cup title sponsor
Vitality, the UK health and life insurance company, has today agreed a three-year deal to become the title sponsor of English soccer’s Women’s FA Cup.
The tie-up with the Football Association is understood to be the most lucrative in the history of the competition, with Vitality replacing SSE after the energy company’s four-year contract came to an end.
The competition will be rebranded as the Vitality Women’s FA Cup through to July 2023.
Vitality’s sponsorship will kick off from the start of the quarter-finals of the 2019-20 FA Cup, which take place on 26 and 27 September.
Although it is a three-year contract, Vitality’s sponsorship will cover four Women's FA Cups as last season’s edition is still yet to be completed after it was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The deal represents a significant financial boost for the women’s game in the UK, and will help to allay fears it will suffer and struggle to attract strong commercial support because of the effects of Covid-19.
It represents the second major commercial deal in English women’s soccer in the past year after Barclays, the UK-based bank, became the first title sponsor of the Women's Super League, in what was regarded as the largest investment to date by a brand into UK women’s sport.
That deal is worth around £10 million ($12.9 million) over three years to July 2022.
Vitality will have the benefit of sponsoring two Women's FA Cup finals in less than a year, with the 2019-20 final set to take place on 1 November, and the 2020-21 edition set for 22 May, both at Wembley Stadium.
The company is hopeful that crowds will be able to return to stadiums in time for next year’s final, particularly as the 2019 encounter between Manchester City and West Ham United attracted an attendance of 43,000 and a peak audience of 2.2 million on television.
The FA said Vitality “will help drive visibility of women’s football and inspire many more girls and women to take up football.”
Kelly Simmons, the FA’s director of the women’s professional game, said: “We recognise that during a very difficult time for everyone, this is a big commitment that Vitality has made in becoming primary sponsor of the Women’s FA Cup. This partnership not only highlights the affection that so many have for the Women’s FA Cup, but it also demonstrates the growing interest in the women’s game, which is something I know Vitality is keen to develop alongside us.
“I was confident that with the fantastic momentum that had been built in the women’s game, we would come back strongly and keep building on that. You would think at the moment sports sponsorship would be a difficult space to get new partners in, because nobody knows the true impact yet of Covid in any industry or walk of life. Just as we do not in football, because we do not know when fans will come back.”
Vitality has already made significant moves in the soccer market this month, after announcing new partnerships with six English clubs covering both men's and women's teams.
The agreements take in AFC Bournemouth Women, Crystal Palace's men and women, Leeds United's men and women, Leicester City Women’s FC, Newcastle United Women and Southampton's men and women.
Vitality already had commercial partnerships with the men’s teams of Bournemouth, Leicester City and Newcastle United, Chelsea’s men and women and Cardiff City Women.
Elsewhere in women’s sport, the brand has a strong presence in netball, notably as title sponsor of the England team.