How sports teams can score off the pitch with a 3pl partnership

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On June 27, 2023 by Josh Arrowsmith
Explore more: Experiences & Industry Insights | Case Studies | Testimonials

As sports teams and clubs attract global fan bases and merchandise demand soars, the pressure to deliver seamless fulfilment services has intensified alongside the growth of eCommerce.

We just have to look at the volume of shirt sales of the two biggest clubs in the English Premier League. In 2022 Manchester United and Liverpool combined to ship a total of 5m shirts globally. Even as we glance further down the table, Norwich City shipped over 100,000. Merchandise to football clubs is a big deal and a valuable revenue stream, no matter where you sit on the pyramid.

It’s not only football that benefits from international fandom. The rugby apparel market is set to grow over 10% between now and 2030, and with a World Cup just around the corner, expect to see a seasonal boom too. Similarly, NFL teams have nurtured the European market by hosting games at stadia across the continent as franchises attempt to tap into new markets.

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With seasonal events like shirt sales, a well-orchestrated supply chain is essential. Surges in demand as fans eagerly await the release of new shirts and training wear can lead to multiple challenges for off-field operations. The pressure to process orders efficiently while maintaining accuracy becomes critical. In-house fulfilment teams may struggle to keep pace with order volume, leading to delays and a poorer fan experience. That’s why more sports teams and clubs are turning to 3PL partners to help with order fulfilment.


As clubs have migrated from bricks and mortar stores to the world of eCommerce, it’s never been easier for fans to connect with their club and invest in the latest merchandise. A 3PL partner backed by an effective warehouse management system can help relieve pressure at critical junctures and efficiently manage high order volumes throughout the online order process.

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As fan bases span across continents, international orders add an additional layer of complexity for clubs. Customs regulations, shipping complexities, and varying delivery timelines can present significant obstacles.


This is a critical area for teams with a global fanbase. By leaning on the expertise of a 3PL with reliable freight forwarding and customs management they can benefit from expertise in a complex area and facilitate the smooth movement of goods across borders, bolstering fan loyalty no matter where they are located.

We only need to look at the rise of AFC Wrexham as a case study in scaling operations. The club’s takeover by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in conjunction with the release of hit Disney show ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ has prompted exponential growth. This has led to record shirt sales and a new audience way beyond the locality of the club. Scalability therefore becomes essential and it’s vital clubs keep up with demand, avoid bottle necks and operational inefficiencies.


In sport, fan engagement and loyalty are vital. Timely and accurate fulfilment is essential to enhance the overall customer experience. With platforms like Finishing Line’s warehouse management system Tenevo, coupled 3PL expertise, clubs can ensure orders reach fans promptly, contributing to heightened satisfaction and loyalty. By offering a seamless eCommerce experience, sports teams can nurture stronger relationships with their global fan base and drive repeat purchases.

Tenevo empowers sports teams with comprehensive control over their supply chain. From managing inventory to tracking orders in real-time, Tenevo optimises every step of the fulfilment process. Its user-friendly interface allows teams to easily oversee stock levels, streamline picking and packing, and enhance overall operational efficiency. The integration of Tenevo with 3PL partners ensures a seamless end-to-end fulfilment experience, even during the most demanding periods.

In the competitive landscape of sports, a well-executed supply chain is a vital component of success. Sports teams who partner with a 3PL provider can benefit from outsourcing order fulfilment, whether it’s handling seasonal shirt sales, managing international orders, or accommodating growth.



By delivering a positive fan experience and maintaining operational efficiency via their 3PL, teams can focus on what matters most to them and their fans – what happens on the field.  

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Josh Arrowsmith

Head of Commercial & Innovation

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