International Champions Cup Organizers Count On World Cup Boost For Second Year
The early exit of several top nations at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil "could be a blessing in disguise for this year’s Guinness International Champions Cup," according to HJ Mai of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. At least, that is the belief of Charlie Stillitano, CEO of tournament organizer Relevent Sports. With teams like England, Italy and Spain failing to advance past the group stage in Brazil, "players from those countries were back with their club teams for initial training sessions earlier than they would have been otherwise." Stillitano said, “We honestly caught a break with so many teams being eliminated early." The monthlong World Cup competition "had a clear impact on ticket sales for the tournament." Most match tickets went on sale in mid-February, and while Relevent officials said that there "was a steady pace of sales since then, there also was a jolt in sales over the past month." The tournament will feature eight top European teams -- including ManU, Real Madrid, AS Roma and Liverpool FC -- "playing 13 games at venues across North America." Stillitano said that "he expects eight sellouts by the end of the tournament, with the other games attracting crowds of between 30,000 and 50,000 spectators." He said, "We are talking about a tournament that will rival the Euros and World Cups as far as attendance on a per game basis." This year’s World Cup had an average match attendance of 52,762.
ABOVE FACE VALUE: Stillitano said that tournament matches "will be shown in 150 countries." Of course, that global TV coverage "is important for organizers on the sponsorship side, as well." While official sponsors of the participating clubs "have the opportunity to show their affiliation at practice sessions and daily press conferences of the teams, official tournament partners receive their time in the spotlight on match days." For title sponsor Guinness, the linkup "provides an opportunity to associate itself with some of Europe’s top football clubs while paying a fraction of what it would cost to be a sponsor of the UEFA Champions League." Guinness Senior Brand Manager Jon Urch said, "[Relevent Sports] has given us phenomenal value." The global coverage of the event "also gives Guinness the exposure it seeks in markets in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America." In addition to the title sponsorship with Guinness, tournament organizers "have secured deals with MasterCard/Citi Private Pass, Pepsi, GM/Chevrolet, Aon, Geico, Air Force Reserves and windshield wiper company Trico." Relevent officials said that "sponsorship revenue for this year’s event is expected to be up from 2013 but declined to provide specific dollar-figure amounts." With the opening whistle for this year’s event still to come, Relevent "is already anticipating 2015 and looking beyond North America, as well." Working with RSE Ventures’ Catalyst Media Group in Asia, Relevent "aims to stage a tournament in China and Australia next summer." That event "would feature six European clubs, with three of them already confirmed, though their identities were not disclosed" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/21 issue).