Whitbread is reviewing its 10m sponsorship of the Round the World Yacht Race and is already hunting for potential sponsors to underwrite the 1997 race.
The company, whose name has been synonymous with the nine-month race for 23 years, will still fund the event if a sponsor is not found.
“What has happened is that the race has grown out of all proportion in terms of the sort of event it is,” says a spokeswoman for Whitbread.
Alan Pascoe’s sponsorship firm, API Sponsorship, has been approached to seek alternative sponsors – with the possibility of Whitbread retaining ownership of the event. Part of the review could mean that Whitbread sells the title rights.
API Sponsorship spokesman Alun James says one reason behind Whitbread’s decision to review its sponsorship of the ocean race is that Whitbread is not an international brand.
The event, which has its starting and finishing point in Southampton, has become much larger and would be more suited to a multinational company, says James. A sponsorship offer made by a tobacco company has been turned down.
However, it is understood that API Sponsorship is in negotiations with a communications company and an airline.
Whitbread spends about 5m annually on sports sponsorship, including the Stella Artois Queen’s Tennis Tournament.