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SBD Global/October 9, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

British Sailing's Sponsorship Drought Could Leave Liquid Assets High And Dry

Sailing and rowing, two of Great ­Britain’s most successful Olympic sports, are "still without a frontline sponsor" more than a year after they ­delivered a combined total of 14 medals at London 2012, according to Alex Lowe of the LONDON TIMES. The lack of financial support "threatens to harm the chances of repeat success in Rio de Janeiro." British Rowing received £6M during its six-year association with German multinational Siemens. Having drawn up a list of 300 potential sponsors, British Rowing "has engaged in talks with a handful of companies with the aim of securing a partner that can help to increase the sport’s profile as much as providing financial backing." However, British Rowing has "yet to strike a deal." British Rowing lost Skandia, its principal partner, and G4S as the main contributors to sponsorship worth £1M ($1.6M) a year. UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said, “The profile of the home Games was absolutely massive and there was a lot of interest coming ­behind British sporting success. It might be that some sponsors are looking at it and thinking ‘can it ever be that good again?’ ” That is "a worrying prospect." Rowing and sailing receive lottery funding via UK Sport -- £32.6M ($52.5M) and £24.5M ($15.2M), respectively, between '13 and '17 -- and they are "­supported by other minor commercial partners." However, top-end sponsorship backing "is the difference between high performance and elite performance." Royal Yachting Association Olympic Manager Stephen Park is "surprised that sailing and rowing have struggled to attract new principal sponsors." He believes that the legacy of London 2012 means that commercial opportunities around Olympic sports "should be more attractive and urged prospective backers to step forward, arguing that the mutual benefits are greater the longer the partnership." Park: “Having a long-term partnership is far better from a performance perspective -- and in most cases from a business perspective. What you are doing in commercial terms is enhancing an existing program, which is underwritten by the lottery funding. We have managed to provide a great business return for the sponsors” (LONDON TIMES, 10/8).
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