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Volume 7 No. 149

Marketing and Sponsorship

Team Principal Dave Brailsford needs to find a new title sponsor but Pinarello is sticking around.

Bike brand Pinarello will support Team Sky beyond '19, as it is convinced Team Principal Dave Brailsford can find a new title sponsor to replace Sky and "keep the team alive," according to Stephen Farrand of CYCLING NEWS. Pinarello has been Team Sky's bike sponsor since the British WorldTour team was created for the '10 season, "sharing in the team's success" at the Tour de France and other races over the years. Pinarello invests close to €4M ($4.6M) per season via its sponsorship and supplies hundreds of frames, "securing it a place on the Team Sky jersey and the prestige of winning Grand Tours and other major races." The Italian bike brand extended its sponsorship in '16, with the deal set to run through '20, but on Wednesday Sky and 21st Century Fox announced they would end their sponsorship and ownership of the team. Pinarello CEO Fausto Pinarello said, "I'm confident that the team will continue and continue to be successful. I've also had calls from people who are interested too and that's a sign of just how good a team Team Sky is, people want to be part of it" (CYCLING NEWS, 12/13). The London INDEPENDENT reported Sky's move to end its involvement in professional cycling after the '19 season has given Team Sky "enough time to line up a new sponsor," according to retired two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador. He believes the early notice is a "silver lining for cycling's most dominant team." Contador said, "The good news is that they'll know about the likelihood of a new sponsor with some advance warning. It's not like they've been told in August that the squad was going to end at the end of the year." Contador added that he was "not surprised" by Sky's decision to end its long running and "spectacularly successful" relationship with the British outfit, and believes its riders would "have no trouble finding new teams if another backer did not emerge" (INDEPENDENT, 12/13).

NO REGRETS: In London, Sean Ingle reported Geraint Thomas said that he "has no regrets" in signing a new deal with Team Sky in September, despite being in "shock" when he learned Sky pulled the plug on its sponsorship deal. This year's Tour de France winner, who considered becoming team leader of Polish team CCC before agreeing to an improved £3.5M ($4.4M)-a-year deal with Team Sky, is also "confident" Brailsford will find a sponsor to keep the team together in '20. Thomas said, "I don't regret [not] joining another team. I have got every confidence in the team in getting something else to keep it together. When you look at other teams, title sponsors change but the core stays the same, so there is no reason why that can't happen" (GUARDIAN, 12/13).

The Premier League fears the two high-profile racism storms that have "rocked" English football are damaging its global brand, according to Sami Mokbel of the London DAILY MAIL. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling have been at the center of two racism controversies in as many weeks, "triggering questions about how tolerant English football is." The Premier League "swiftly released a statement condemning the incident at Stamford Bridge concerning Sterling," who was allegedly racially abused by a Chelsea fan. But while the "flashpoint has dominated the news agenda" in recent days, the incident has "hardly been visible" on the Premier League's official website. Indeed, it is understood there are concerns the incidents involving Aubameyang and Sterling are "having an impact on the way the Premier League is perceived across the world." Top-flight execs have "successfully shaped the Premier League into one of the most lucrative and multi-cultural divisions in world football." But there is a realization the two incidents, which happened in the space of six days, could "seriously damage the gleaming image they have worked so hard to nurture" (DAILY MAIL, 12/12).

The sponsorship landscape has "changed significantly" for Formula 1 teams over the past decade or so and it has been "a change for the worse for most involved," according to Michael Searles of CITY A.M. Revenue from sponsors has decreased by a quarter since '07, falling from $1.01B to $772.5M last season, according to data compiled by Formula Money. In fact, there has been a "steep decrease" in sponsorship income over the past five years. Having "rallied" between '11 and '13 to more than £1B again, it has "since plummeted" by more than 25%. A key factor in the overall decline has been a loss of funds from the telecom and technology sector, which peaked at $267.3M in '07 but had decreased to $163.2M by '10. It has "suffered since Vodafone withdrew," having had spells with Ferrari and McLaren. The company paid the former $40M-per-year until teaming up with the latter in '07, which it paid between $77M and $92M-per-year until '13, when it "abandoned the sport altogether." Similarly, Renault had backing from Spanish telecom Telefónica worth $25M annually until '07. While there has been a "significant revenue reduction in some sectors," others have "stepped up to take on a share of the load." Beverages have been a "key part of that," increasing by 429% between '05 and '17. Some of that increase "can be owed to Martini," which has been the Williams team's title sponsor since '14 in a deal worth $115M over five years, although that will not run into '19 after the brand decided to pull out of F1 (CITY A.M., 12/13).