Boilers, burgers and Bugg - soccer weirdest shirt sponsorship deals

Planet Sport takes a look at some of the most out there kit link-ups from the last 30 years.

Sometimes we associate a sponsor to a particular team or kit for the right reasons, like The Invincibles of Arsenal and O2. However, from time to time, we see a random sponsor appear on the front of a team's shirt and it makes you wonder, what were they thinking?

Classic FM (Queens Park Rangers, 1992-1994)

Perhaps the radio station you would least expect a soccer club to be associated with, QPR donned the Classic FM shirt for the first two seasons of their adventure in the newly formed Premier League.

The iconic white and blue hoops of the London-based club featured the classical music broadcaster's logo for a fifth-place finish in the Premier League in 1992/93.

Prolific striker Les Ferdinand bagged 20 goals while, in keeping with the Classical theme, Ray Wilkins pulled the strings from midfield.

Les Ferdinand and QPR's Classic FM-sponsored shirt
Les Ferdinand and QPR's Classic FM-sponsored shirt

XL Holidays (West Ham, 2007-2008)

When a company pays to feature on a club shirt, you don't expect them to suddenly go bump. So when travel business XL Airways went into administration in 2008 with debts of around £143million, West Ham were left sponsorless.

To make matters worse, West Ham had only received £2.5million of a £7.5million three-year deal with the Sussex-based firm.

To cover up the XL branding (and possibly their own embarrassment) the Hammers added large squad numbers to the front of their shirts, something which, not surprisingly, has failed to catch on since.

West Ham's first match without a sponsor was against West Bromwich Albion. Ironically, in an era of mega-money sponsorship deals, another team without a logo on the front of their shirt.

Freddie Sears, West Ham's No. 33
Freddie Sears, West Ham's No. 33

Burger King (Getafe CF, 2009-2012 and Stevenage, 2018-2021)

Madrid-based Getafe CF made waves in 2009 when they struck a whopper of a deal to sport the Burger King logo on their shirts. The sponsorship took on a strange twist with the face of the Burger King himself featuring on the inside of the kit - an excuse for an over-the-head shirt celebration if ever there was one.

After making headlines with the Getafe link-up, Burger King gained even more publicity ten years later by putting their logo on the front of EFL side Stevenage's strip. As you would expect, the release of the home and away strips created a massive buzz on social media and the club sold out of shirts for the first time in their history.

FIFA fans helped Stevenage and the fast-food chain gain further exposure by picking the League Two club more than any other team in Career Mode while the trending 'Stevenage Challenge' was active in 2019.

Azerbaijan (Atletico Madrid, 2012-2014)

A country featuring on the front of a shirt is unusual, even by soccer standards. In a campaign accompanied by the slogan 'Land of Fire', the goal was to gain exposure for the country of Azerbaijan.

The decision to sponsor one of the biggest clubs in the world paid off as Atletico Madrid almost conquered Europe and helped maximise exposure for the country simultaneously. They finished the 2013/14 season as UEFA Champions League runners-up and impressively beat Barcelona and Real Madrid in the race for the title, winning their first La Liga since 1996.

Since featuring on the Atletico Madrid shirt, Azerbaijan has hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, made a bid for the Olympic games, held the UEFA Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea and also hosted the inaugural European Games.

Angry Birds (Everton, 2017-2020)

In 2017, Everton signed a three-year deal worth a reported £3million with Rovio, who own the popular Angry Birds franchise.

As part of the deal, Everton featured the title 'Angry Birds' on their shirt sleeves, while some of their players including Gylfi Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun featured in the game itself.

The logo first appeared on the sleeves of the Premier League club at the start of the 2017/18 season, a campaign which finished with the Toffees in a respectable eighth position.

Wayne Rooney celebrates another high score
Wayne Rooney celebrates another high score

Jake Bugg (Notts County, 2017-2021)

They may be one of the oldest clubs in English soccer, but they had one of the newest and innovative sponsorship ideas around.

Local lad and purveyor of guitar-driven indie, Jake Bugg, originally sponsored his boyhood club in 2017. The same season, County took the unconventional route of having a different sponsor on the front of their kit for 10 consecutive months.

Bugg's decision to sponsor Notts County caused something of a social media storm and attracted the national press - a win-win for the Nottingham-born singer.

The month of November 2017 was sponsored by Bugg and he has continued to have a close relationship with the club. Consequently, the artist, whose debut album went double platinum in 2012, sponsored the National League side for the two following seasons.

Love, Hope and Misery indeed.

Ideal Boilers (West Bromwich Albion, 2018-2021)

What better way to promote your boiler company than to have a mascot that is an actual boiler? So not only is the company logo on the front of West Brom's shirts, but fans also get to see a boiler walking around The Hawthorns every week.

Following the 2018 deal, West Brom opted to changed their mascot to 'Boiler Man', providing endless pleasure and song opportunities to a long line of away supporters.

Bemused Bolton fans were the first to get in on the act and he became an overnight sensation. As a result, he now has his own line in merchandise. However, following a company rebrand to Ideal Heating in 2020 there are fears it could be the end for Boiler Man.

Heating Man anyone?

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