Rumors of Team Sky being backed by Colombian investment "have been pushed further" as reports suggest major state-backed oil company Ecopetrol "will step in as the main financier," according to Joe Robinson of CYCLIST. Gazzetta dello Sport reported the oil company will come on board as a major sponsor, although it is "unlikely to cover" the team's £34M ($43.6M) annual budget, "with the option for secondary sponsors." Ecopetrol, with estimated revenue of $27B, would "certainly have the capital to cover the demands of Dave Brailsford's team." The company is ranked 346th on the Fortune Global 500 list and is "one of the world's 25 biggest petroleum exporters." Colombian newspaper El Espectador reported Brailsford traveled to Colombia ahead of the ongoing Tour Colombia stage race to "explore potential sponsorship" with Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez and director of Coldeportes -- the government department for sport and recreation -- Ernesto Lucena. The meeting "is believed to have been facilitated" by Colombian former Team Sky rider Rigoberto Urán. Team Sky was recently on a "public relations offensive in Colombia" ahead of the Tour Colombia (CYCLIST, 2/14).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Everton is planning for a "world-class" store at its proposed new stadium after signing an improved deal with Fanatics, according to Phil Kirkbride of the LIVERPOOL ECHO. The Blues penned a "multi-year" agreement with Fanatics that will extend to a new ground at Bramley-Moore Dock. Everton board member Sasha Ryazantsev confirmed that the new terms will "bring in more money each year" than the £3M ($3.8M) per year the club is understood to have received as part of a decade-long partnership with Kitbag. Ryazantsev said, "The deal also supports our longer-term plans for our retail operation, including extensive work on planning for the move to Bramley-Moore Dock." Fanatics bought Kitbag in '16 and honored the remaining three years of the contract with Everton but announced a "fresh agreement that forms part of the club's global expansion plans." Former Everton CEO Robert Elstone said, "It is no longer Kitbag but Fanatics, which is a much bigger company than Kitbag ever was. The market has moved on and they have production capabilities that, I don't think, Kitbag ever had at the time, so they are much more nimble, they are able to deal with stock issues if there ever are any" (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 2/14).
A sports marketing expert warned the National Rugby League "faces a financial fallout for years to come" as a result of rugby league’s scandal-plagued offseason, according to the AAP. The NRL will, as expected, announce a profit when it "unveils its financial results at its annual general meeting later this month." Ministry of Sport Founder Ben Parsons said that "recent controversies would be leading companies to question their investment in clubs and the game in the months to come." He said, "You’ve got to remember the way planning cycles happen for clients. They don’t wake up and go, 'I want to sponsor a team.' It doesn’t happen like that. It’s at best a quarter away, at best, normally a year. All your missed opportunity, you see the problem in six-to-12 months. If you look at the Westpac group, their plans are four years out, they’ve got plans for 2022 already." Cronulla "already lost three major sponsors" in Opal Solar, Bang & Olufsen and Martec, while the Andrew Fifita and Josh Dugan podcast scandal "forced a prospective backer to pull out of a five-year deal" worth A$6M ($4.3M). Parsons accused the NRL of "not pressing home to players their responsibilities as brand ambassadors." He said, "No one’s actually showing [the players] what good brand is, the NRL are hopeless. I put them in my top five worst administrators for brand and reputation management for individual athletes." Parsons added that the NBA exemplified a winning approach, saying, "And the reason is because they understand ... LeBron [James] doesn’t go just because you play well on the field [that behavior doesn’t matter]. They’ve got a very holistic attitude on what the player signs into" (AAP, 2/13).
England Rugby launched "We Play Rugby," a new marketing campaign for all formats of rugby played across the country. It is closely linked to "The Game of Our Lives" campaign. "We Play Rugby" emphasizes the grassroots and community game and includes men’s 15-a-side rugby; women’s rugby; youth to adult transition and alternative formats of the game (England Rugby).
Australian Football League side Carlton extended its partnership with Ikon Services Australia for five years. The renewal coincides with the recent funding announcement (Carlton).