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Volume 10 No. 22

Marketing and Sponsorship

Rory McIlroy "could be in line to sign a massive deal with Nike when his current contract with Titleist/Footjoy expires at the end of the year," according to the IRISH TIMES. Such a deal "could be worth up to $250M over 10 years, which is similar to Tiger Woods’ current deal with Nike." McIlroy's U.S. Open victory last year sparked speculations that he could rival Woods as "a money-making machine on and off the course." He could earn "$1B from the sport." The 23-year-old from County Down, Northern Ireland "has long been considered a sponsor's dream -- clean cut, articulate and immensely popular worldwide." Sources insisted that the move to Nike "will become a reality when the Titleist/Footjoy deal expires." With Woods as the undisputed face of Nike, "it remains to be seen what will happen next and whether or not McIlroy is being groomed to take over from Woods" as the face of what Forbes recently called "the most-valuable sports brand in the world, worth $15.9B." When asked for comment earlier this week, McIlroy 's agent, Conor Ridge of Horizon Sports Management, "did not immediately move to quench speculation that his top client was about to leave Titleist for Nike." Ridge said in a statement, "As you are aware, Rory is under contract with Titleist. It is our policy not to pass comment regarding any industry speculation related to any of our players" (IRISH TIMES, 10/20).

Casino group Partouche Founder Isidore Partouche "is threatening to quit" Ligue 1 club Lille if he does not obtain the naming rights to the new Grand Stade stadium, according to LA VOIX DU NORD. The French casino group has made an offer of €2.5M ($3.3M) per year for the naming rights to the stadium, but the club "is hoping" for anywhere between €3.3M ($4.3M) and €3.8M ($4.9M). Partouche said, "They will not find a taker at that price" (LA VOIX DU NORD, 10/17). reported that the offer has not received a response, which "has irritated the entrepreneur." Partouche said, "If the club does not give me a good reason explaining why we are not being chosen, the Partouche group will quit its sponsorship of the club very soon: the shirt, the ads, everything." The departure of Partouche, shirt sponsor and 40% owner of the company Socle, which is the majority shareholder of the club (87%), "would be a big problem for the club" (, 10/18).

Cyclist Lance Armstrong's doping scandal "is causing sponsors to question their future in a sport that allows them to reach mass audiences at a moderate price but risks tainting their brand," according to Keith Weir of REUTERS. The Dutch Rabobank "pulled out of professional cycling on Friday, ending a sponsorship deal worth €15M ($19.6M) a year and leaving one of the Tour de France's best-known teams facing an uncertain future." Nike "dropped seven-times Tour de France winner Armstrong last Wednesday." The choice for companies "is stark." Do they cut their losses to avoid contamination from the sport's dark past or buy into the view that Armstrong's demise marks the end of that era? Garmin-Sharp team Manager Jonathan Vaughters said, "I know that our sponsors continue to be very supportive and view this as a necessary process to move the sport forward. We have very strong clauses in the contract, which means if there are any current anti-doping infractions, that can cause total termination." The team "won over Japan's Sharp Electronics," which signed up as a sponsor in June, sharing naming rights with U.S. navigation devices manufacturer Garmin. Besides sponsorships, "cycling teams can earn prize money in major events like the Tour de France." The Tour de France, which is run by the family-owned French group Amaury Sport Organisation, "does not charge spectators but generates its income through the sale of TV rights to an estimated 190 countries and has its own sponsorship deals." IFM Sports Group Managing Dir Ulrich Lacher said that "Rabobank's departure is unlikely to trigger a mass exit from a sport that delivers such exposure." Lacher said, "There is hardly any other sport that offers such good return on investment in terms of media exposure, especially in western and southern Europe." Rabobank's departure "was the biggest blow to the sport since the German mobile phone company T-Mobile quit in '07, sick of a series of doping scandals" (REUTERS, 10/20).

DUTCH DEPARTURE: In London, Brendan Gallagher reported that the professional cycling world is "reeling" following an announcement that "Rabobank is to withdraw from the sport as a direct consequence" of the USADA's Armstrong report and its contents. The bank's withdrawal "sends out a strong message to the Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) that even the most loyal and committed sponsors have their breaking point and will not tolerate indefinitely a sport that is beset by a doping culture." Rabobank will end its sponsorship of both the men's and the women's professional cycling teams "at the end of this year but will continue its ties with amateur cycling as a sponsor, including the youth training and the cyclocross team." Rabobank CFO Bert Bruggink said, "It is with pain in our heart, but for the bank this is an inevitable decision. We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport" (TELEGRAPH, 10/19).

TIME TO RECONSIDER: REUTERS' Webb & Deutsch wrote in a nation "obsessed with both amateur and professional cycling, Rabobank is the biggest sponsor in Dutch professional cycling with total sponsorship" worth $19.64M a year. Another sponsor, SKINS, which is a partner of the Rabobank team, "said on Thursday it would reconsider its association with the sport if its UCI governing body failed to act on doping" (REUTERS, 10/19).

BLANK CHESTS:'s Hedwig Kröner reported that Rabobank will honor contracts "but not under its name." The squad's management announced that the Rabobank professional cycling teams "will continue to exist next year, but under a 'white label.'" Despite the Dutch bank's withdrawal from sponsorship, Rabobank confirmed in a separate press conference that it would "honour the contracts," ensuring the teams' immediate financial continuity. Rabobank said in a statement: "The professionals and the women will be put as 'white label' under a new foundation yet to be established, while the continentals and the crossers will be accommodated by the Dutch Cycling Federation. The careers of a generation of riders will this way be secured." In a TV press conference on Friday morning, Rabobank Financial Dir Bert Bruggink confirmed this by saying, "We will honour our contracts with the riders. The pro teams come in a separate foundation and hence contractual and financial obligations are unconditional. For the riders it is not possible now to move to another team" (, 10/19).

RIDERS REACT: In London, Sam Munnery reported Rabobank "immediately received criticism for walking away." Cyclist David Millar, "a reformed doper who served a two-year suspension after being caught in '04, said the bank’s decision was 'sickening.'" Millar tweeted, "Dear Rabobank, you were part of the problem. How dare you walk away from your young clean guys who are part of the solution" (LONDON TIMES, 10/19).

German Hockey League (DEL) club EHC Red Bull Munich "signed a new sponsorship deal with rental car company," according to Matthias Kerber of the ABENDZEITUNG. This new sponsorship deal "provides the club with the financial means to finally acquire an NHL player." EHC Red Bull Munich GM Christian Winkler said, "We are very happy and very grateful that this sponsor provides us with this opportunity. We've always said that we only sign an NHL player if we find an external sponsor and have injury problems." Winkler added: "Both requirements have come to hand, a sponsor is willing to take the financial burden, and we have with Toni Ritter not only a player with a long-term injury, but we also have various other banged-up players." The club has only scored 20 goals in its first 11 games and is looking for "a forward who is a hard worker and fighter, and not somebody who just wants to take a quick peek into the hockey world outside of the NHL" (ABENDZEITUNG, 10/19).

A GOOD CAUSE: EHC Red Bull Munich goaltender Jochen Reimer has become an official wish ambassador for the charity organization Make-A-With Deutschland e.V. Reimer succeeds former EHC captain Stéphane Julien who held the position until his retirement from hockey (EHC Red Bull Munich).

Tokyo-based Int'l Sports Promotion Society has renewed its sponsorship of golf's Faldo Series until '15. ISPS has been "one of the staunch supporters" of Nick Faldo's golf development program in Asia since '10. ISPS "has been appointed global partner with immediate effect" (PHNOM PENH POST, 10/19). ... Aamal Chair Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani and Qatar Football Association President Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani and the Qatar Stars League signed a partnership agreement. The deal will see Aamal sponsor the National A Team, H.H. Emiri Cup, Sheikh Jassim Cup, Reserve League, Qatar Futsal League and the H.H. Heir Apparent’s Cup (Aamal). ... Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund has agreed to a new partnership with home shopping TV channel QVC Deutschland to sell the club's merchandise products via the channel (QVC Deutschland). ... Tequila Patron, the American Le Mans Series' presenting sponsor since '10, will retain its status through the '13 season, before the series merges with the Grand-Am Rolex Series as a unified racing body in '14 (ALMS). ... Brasileiro club Ponte Preta has agreed to a sponsorship deal with digital agency AM4. The deal will run until '14, and the company will have its logo on the front and back of the club's jersey. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The announcement of the deal will be made on Tuesday, when the agency opens its new offices in Campinas, Brazil (, 10/19).