What Hi-Fi? is reaching fever pitch as the domestic football season comes to a close tomorrow with the FA Cup Final, and, oh yes, there's still the Football League playoffs to be decided as well... Add in next month's World Cup in Brazil, and we have a feast of football.
Ahead of the big kick-off in the land of joga bonito, Samsung has climbed on the England team bus as Official Consumer Electronics and Smartphone Supplier.
The relationship between AV companies and football seems to be as long as the history of football sponsorship itself, with some of the first sponsors in football coming from the consumer technology world. In this week's feature, we take a look at some of the most memorable...
Aberdeen – JVC [1987-90]
(Photo via spfl.co.uk)
We start north of the border with Aberdeen, who teamed up with JVC for three years in the late 1980s. Highlight: The 1989/90 season saw the Dons win two Scottish cups, as well as second place in the league.
Arsenal – JVC [1981-99]
(Photo: Action Images via The Telegraph)
One of the most enduring shirt sponsorships during the 1980s and 1990s was JVC and Arsenal. Highlight: The 1989 Division One triumph at Anfield, with Gunners winning 2-0 and leapfrogging Liverpool to the title.
Arsenal – Sega [1999-2002]
(Photo via Yahoo! Eurosport)
But that partnership ended in 1999; replaced with Sega and its short-lived Dreamcast console. Highlight: In the final year of the agreement, Arsenal bagged their second domestic double (League and FA Cup) in four years.
Barnet – JBL [2002-04]
(Photo via BBC News)
American audio manufacturer JBL were the sponsors of then-Conference team Barnet for two seasons. Highlight: Barnet qualified for the Conference playoffs in 2003-04, but were defeated by Shrewsbury Town.
Barnet – Toshiba [2013-]
(Photo via The Hive London)
Barnet's second flirtation with an AV manufacturer came just last season, with Toshiba adorning their shirts. Highlight: Well, none. Despite the talents of Edgar Davids, Barnet came a lowly eighth on their return to non-league.
Chelsea – Samsung [2005-]
(Photo: Martin Rickett/PA via The Guardian)
Chelsea and Samsung were first paired together in 2005, initially as Samsung Mobile before the 'Mobile' was dropped. Highlight: It's been a great few seasons for Chelsea, with a number of domestic and European honours.
Crystal Palace – TDK [1993-99]
(Photo via cpfc.co.uk)
TDK and Crystal Palace partnered for most of the 90s, with the Japanese company coming in at the start of the Premier League. Highlight: Two promotions to the top flight stand out, even if they were followed by immediate relegations.
Fulham – LG [2007-10]
(Photo via Sky Sports)
It was during arguably Fulham's most successful time in the top flight that the LG brand could be found on their shirts. Highlight: Current England manager Roy Hodgson took the London club to the 2010 Europa League final.
Huddersfield Town – Panasonic [1995-2001]
(Photo via Huddersfield Daily Examiner)
A curious case of affairs. Panasonic's association with Huddersfield Town began after they were promoted to Division One in 1995 and ended in 2001 when the Terriers went back to Division Two. Coincidence? Highlight: eighth place in Division One
Ipswich Town – Pioneer [1981-85]
(Photo via Mundialistas Y Mitos)
The first company to find its way onto the Ipswich Town shirt was Pioneer, the season after the club had won the UEFA Cup. Highlight: Ipswich didn't quite reach the same heights again; league runners-up in 1981/2 was as good as it was going to get.
Leicester City – LG [2001-03]
(Photo via thescore.ie)
After nearly 15 years, Leicester City parted company with Walkers Crisps and it was LG that stepped into the breech in 2001. Highlight: The Foxes were relegated from the Premier League in LG's first season, but bounced straight back the next year.
Leyton Orient – Samsung [2012-]
(Photo via leytonorient.com)
Samsung isn't limiting itself to one sponsorship in English football: Leyton Orient are another of its partnerships. Highlight: As we write, promotion to the second tier – the Championship – is just one game away in the playoffs against Rotherham United.
Liverpool – Hitachi [1979-82]
(Photo via liverpoolfc.wikia.com)
One of the first ever shirt sponsorship deals was signed between Liverpool and Hitachi at a time when the Reds were dominant. Highlight: Two league titles and a European Cup were among the honours from this three-year period!
Livingston – Motorola [1998-2002]
(Photo via myfootballfacts.com)
In 1995, Meadowbank Thistle changed their name to Livingston and Motorola arrived on the scene in 1998 – just in time too. Highlight: Livingston gained two promotions in three years, before finishing third in the SPL in 2002.
Manchester United – Sharp [1982-2000]
(Photo via redcafe.net)
It will probably go down as one of the most famous sponsorship deals ever, with Manchester United paired with Sharp for 18 years – even the grey shirts. Highlight: Really? We've lost count the number of trophies Manchester United won during that time.
MK Dons – Marshall [2004-09]
(Photo via zimbio.com)
The first firm to sponsor MK Dons after their controversial relocation from Wimbledon in south London was Marshall, the guitar amp makers. Highlight: Within two years of their move, MK Dons were down to League Two. Another two years later, they won League Two and regained promotion.
Motherwell – Motorola [1991-2002]
(Photo: Barry Coombs/Empics via The Guardian)
Livingston wasn't Motorola's first Scottish sponsorship deal – Motherwell had their logo in 1991. Highlight: A league runners-up medal in 1994-95 was the best Motherwell could salvage from the Old Firm's clutches.
Nottingham Forest – Panasonic [1980-1982]
(Photo via Futbolistas Con Historia)
Panasonic became Nottingham Forest's first shirt sponsor the season after the club had lifted the European Cup. Highlight: Forest came runners-up in the 1980-81 Super and Intercontinental Cups.
Swindon Town – Samsung [2011-]
(Photo via Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard)
Wait, hold on! Another club who currently wears the Samsung name on their shirts? Yes. Highlight: The Robins bounced straight back from League Two in the first year of their Samsung partnership.
Watford – Blaupunkt [1993-96]
(Photo via watfordlegends.com)
The German audio company's only venture into English soccer sponsorship came during the mid-1990s with Watford. Highlight: Not a particularly glorious time for the Hornets, who were relegated to Division Two in 1996.
Watford – Toshiba [2001-03]
(Photo via BBC News)
Before Toshiba partnered Barnet, the company sponsored another Hertfordshire side in the form of Watford. Highlight: Not much to report in the league, but the Division One team did make the FA Cup semi-finals in 2003.
Wimbledon – Samsung [1989-1991]
(Photo via tradingcarddb.com)
The Samsung name has cropped up a fair few times over the years, and a partnership with Wimbledon is another example. Highlight: After the 1988 FA Cup win, the next few seasons saw the Dons consolidate their progress.
Wycombe Wanderers – Samsung [2013-]
(Photo via Get Bucks)
It's true – Samsung has four sponsorship deals on the go at the one time; Wycombe Wanderers completing the set here. Highlight: If you count surviving the drop into the Conference a highlight, then we'll take it.
by Pete Hayman