What do Leagoo, Davanti and Utilita have in common? Aside from being brands you had never heard of before today, they all sponsor one or more Premier League teams.

They join the illustrious ranks of Marathon Bet, PCCW and Octopus Energy in aligning themselves with the cultural phenomenon that is English club football.

These nuggets of wisdom are the product of an impressively thorough piece of research on European football’s ’Super Spenders’ by sport and entertainment marketing agency CSM. It has totted up 1,769 sponsorship deals with 1,156 brands, estimated to be worth nearly €4bn, across the top competitions in England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy.

England gets by far the biggest share of that spending; €1.2bn, half a billion euros more than German clubs earn and almost twice as much as the Spanish league’s total. For that kind of money, you would think the brands involved must be – to use a phrase beloved of football fans – ‘smashing it’. But take a look through CSM’s long lists of obscure names and you begin to wonder what most of them get out of it.

The strategic problems mount as you move down the marketing funnel, past awareness into consideration and intent. If you have a passing interest in football, you have probably heard of the Carabao Cup and are newly aware of its Thai sponsor. However, if you’re anything like me you won’t have realised Carabao is an energy drink until you Googled it while writing this column, assuming instead that it must be either a brand of game meat or an unholy mashup of Curaçao and Caramac. (Now, there’s a cocktail waiting to be invented.)

“Ah,” I hear you cry, “but the fact you’re even talking about Carabao means the sponsorship is working.”

“Ah,” I respond, “but there are more effective, less expensive ways to expand into new markets, such as running TV ads and being available in shops.” There’s a lot less to spend on…