Wednesday, 8 October 2008

How SOUTH got credit-crunched...

British sports events and expeditions are facing delays and cancellations this year amid a severe shortage of corporate sponsorship (wrote the Sunday Telegraph).
The credit crisis has led to companies slashing their marketing budgets, with dismal consequences for many sporting events. Richard Gillis of SportBusiness, the marketing and research firm, said straightforward brand exposure was no longer enough to attract corporate big hitters.
"Sponsorship budgets are the first thing to go in a downturn," said Gillis. "These events are going to have to start lowering their expectations on price or generate more compelling business opportunities for companies."
This analysis of the £5.3bn industry comes as an unprecedented number of major sporting events seek backers for 2009 as one in five firms cut sponsorship budgets.
The worst affected is snooker, with cancelling its sponsorship of the World Championships and Saga Insurance terminating its contract with the Wembley Masters. The World Snooker Association told players: "Both companies have stated that the current economic climate is affecting marketing budgets in all industries."
Tennis is also under pressure. The Queen's Club Tournament, once known simply as the Stella Artois, has been renamed after the 30-year association was not renewed. Even within Premiership football, West Bromwich Albion was forced to start the season without a shirt sponsor.
"Companies don't have money to splash around at the moment, so they are going for the big events," said Ben Speight, the head of research at SportBusiness. "The middle tier really are struggling to come up with new sponsors."
Among the events currently suffering setbacks, the Cowes Week regatta has come to the end of its deal with Skandia and the Epsom Derby has lost Vodafone, its sponsor of 14 years.
The Wentworth Matchplay golf tournament will be scaled back or cancelled entirely this autumn after a replacement for its sponsor, HSBC, could not be found.
Explorers Ben Saunders and Alastair Humphreys have been forced to postpone plans to journey to the South Pole on foot after their sponsors Ernst & Young pulled out, writes Sarah Butler.
The accountancy firm backed out of a planned three year deal in which it would also have provided £850,000 for the expedition.
Saunders said the firm had told him it would not back the trip because it was “cutting back on any non-core marketing activities” in the current economic climate.
The 1,800 mile return trip to the South Pole, which was intended to start in October, will now be postponed until next year after four years of planning.
The four month expedition would have been the first since Captain Scott’s ill-fated venture to attempt an unsupported return journey to the South Pole. It will now begin in October 2009.

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