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Saturday
Aug252012

Under Armour and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club: A new armour is coming. 

The five-year agreement represents the American company's largest European team sponsorship and their first contract with an English Premier League soccer club.

Spurs have, like Liverpool, taken up a new kit supplier after six years with Puma, also opting for an American sports clothing and accessories company.

Blair Tripodi, director of international marketing for Under Armour: “For us being able to partner with Tottenham is a little bit like winning the Super Bowl. It’s our most significant investment to date outside the United States.

Under Armour already hold kit sponsorship deals with numerous soccer clubs including German Bundesliga side Hannover 96, Greek Superleague team Aris Thessaloniki, Japanese J-League outfit Omiya Ardija plus Deportivo Toluca and Estudiantes Tecos from Mexico’s Primera Division.

“We’ve seen tremendous success for our company based upon our key relationships that we enjoy in the United States and other markets, but we feel Tottenham is quite a coup and quite an important new footprint for us in Europe. We’re very serious about our presence in this market and in this sport and we couldn’t be any more pleased to be starting at the very top with a club like Tottenham.”

The new deal will see Under Armour providing jerseys and other team apparel to Tottenham, who qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history last season, marking their first significant move into the English soccer market.

Under Armour chief executive Kevin Plank said: “This is a highly significant and exciting partnership for Under Armour. Aligning with an elite organisation like Tottenham Hotspur demonstrates our deep commitment to growing the Under Armour brand in the UK and to showcasing our apparel and footwear on the world’s most prestigious athletic stages.”

The company was founded in 1996 by Kevin Plank, a 23-year old former University of Maryland special teams captain for the university American football team.

Plank, who got tired of having to change out of the sweat-soaked T-shirts he wore under his jersey, noticed that his compression shorts stayed dry, which inspired him to make a T-shirt using moisture-wicking fabric for athletic performance. Major competing brands including Nike, Adidas and Reebok soon followed in Plank's footsteps with their own version of Under Armour's moisture-wicking apparel.

By the end of 1996, Under Armour had generated $17,000 in revenue purely by word of mouth. In 1997, Plank had $100,000 in orders to fill and found a factory in Ohio to make the shirts. People began to take notice of the brand when a front page photo of USA Today featured Oakland Raiders quarterback Jeff George wearing an Under Armour mock turtleneck.

Following that front page, Under Armour's first major sale came when an equipment manager from Georgia Tech asked Plank for 10 shirts. The deal with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets opened the door to a contract with North Carolina State. With positive reviews from players, word began to spread and orders began to increase.

Under Armour first made a profit in 1998 and received its first big break in the 1999 Oliver Stone movie Any Given Sunday, in which Willie Beamen, played by Jamie Foxx, wore an Under Armour jockstrap. Plank sent samples of his products to the costume designer. Leveraging the release of Any Given Sunday, Plank purchased an ad in ESPN The Magazine. The ad generated close to $750,000 in sales, and nine years after starting the company, Plank finally put himself on the payroll.