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The sportswear giant Adidas Salomon has been fined 2.4m euros ($2.3m) by a French court after losing an appeal over a contract to kit out French footballers.

The fine was originally imposed in 1996 after the French football federation gave Adidas exclusive supplier rights to provide the kit for all the teams in the French first division.

He said it had changed its sports sponsorship strategy to focus on the biggest names in a variety of sports, with Anna Kournikova and David Beckham among those currently sporting its sportswear.

Until last year, he told BBC News Online, the company supplied kits to 14 out of 18 teams in the French league.

The figure has fallen to three after the company changed its marketing strategy.

The French national team also wears Adidas, he added.

In the UK at least, it is down to the individual football clubs to decide who produces their kits and markets their merchandise.

The biggest deal recently has been Manchester United’s with Nike, worth about ?00m over 13 years.

The deal dwarfs previous Nike football sponsorship deals, such as its ?m a year sponsorship of Brazil’s national team, and is thought to be the biggest of its kind ever signed.

It effectively handed control of Manchester Utd’s global replica kit and merchandising business to the sportswear giant.

Before that, the largest UK deal for kit sponsorship was that between Liverpool FC and Reebok, worth ?1m over three seasons.

The rights to supply the kit for a Premier or First Division club is a real moneyspinner as the company which lands the contract can also produce the official shirt.

Football clubs tend to change at least one of their home and away strips every season.

With shirts costing about ?0 for adult sizes, ?0 for children, it is a lucrative business, leading to accusations that fans are being ripped off.

“It looks as if the French football league tried to take things one step further, to say that they had the right to decide who manufactured the kits over the individual clubs,” Andy Korman, head of sponsorship at UK sports lawyers, Townleys, told BBC News Online.

In the UK, Adidas currently supplies kits to Newcastle United in the Premiership and Fulham, at the top of Division One.

Adidas Salomon is the second largest company in the sporting goods industry measured in terms of worldwide sales with revenues at 5.4bn euros ($5.08bn).
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