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Sports business soar as global sponsorship deal hits £35bn

… As banking, airline, gambling sectors account for 14%, 13% and 12% of UK sports

Global sports sponsorship

Global sports sponsorship is set to hit £35bn by 2019, according to fresh research from by Two Circles.

The analysis predicts sports sponsorship will grow by 4% this year as businesses dig deep to stake a claim to popular sports, thanks largely to demand from the banking, airline and gambling sectors which account for 19%, 14%, 13% and 12% of UK sports sponsorship activity respectively.

However, the figures have sparked a warning that industries are placing too many eggs in too few baskets, with the bonanza also masking some glaring missed opportunities; with rights-holders under-exploiting sponsorship opportunities to the tune of £14bn.

Two Circles boss Gareth Balch said: “Most rights-holders continue to package and sell sponsorship just as they did 20 years ago – offering brand exposure through linear (TV) broadcast coverage as the main benefit for brands.

“Rights-holders are adapting and we predict a sports sponsorship correction By embracing the power of digital and data to create sponsorship assets that better satisfy the objectives of brands, rights-holders will realise the true value of their sponsorship businesses.”

The bump in sports sponsorship spend comes as brands are increasingly investing in women’s games.

UK sports sponsorship by sector

Financial services – 19%

Automotive – 14%

Airline – 13%

Gambling – 12%

Alcohol – 9%

Soft drinks – 7%

Other – 26%

Source: Two Circles

In April, Coca-Cola announced it was to sponsor Channel 4’s new show Women’s Football World and Barclay’s inked a multi-million pound three-year deal of the Women’s Super League.

Even more recently Boots revealed plans to sponsor all of the national teams in the UK and Ireland.

In 2018, Mars renewed its own FA deal and Budweiser signed its first-ever women’s football sponsorship deal.

Gambling concerns

The report comes amid concerns in Europe that marketing restrictions on gambling firms, which currently account for 12% of sports sponsorship spend in the UK alone, could have a considerable negative impact on the sports sponsorship market.

In the UK, health bodies, charities, regulators and businesses are being brought together to tackle problem gambling.

The Gambling Commission has drawn up a three-year strategy that focuses on prevention, education and treatment and support for problem gamblers.

GVC Holdings, which owns Gala, Ladbrokes and Coral, has said it is stopping all football shirt sponsorship, as well as stopping perimeter advertising at matches.


Anthony Nlebem

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