As sporting events continue to play an increasingly dominant role in the global sponsorship industry, the European sponsorship market is preparing itself for a busy four years. During this time an unprecedented number of major events will take place throughout Europe, providing a boost to the &£5.4bn sponsorship market.
The staging of major world, European or Commonwealth events has become bigger business than ever. Also, the economic and political implications for hosting cities and countries is huge and can dominate the actual event taking place. Any city or country staging a major event is likely to have its characteristics and everyday way of life altered for a long period of time, possibly permanently.
The increased status and media attention surrounding sporting events has provided a huge boost for sponsors. A greater number of long-term sponsorship opportunities have been created as a result of the efforts committed to the bidding process for major sporting events.
Europe already regularly hosts a wide array of top annual sporting events. There are two Grand Slam tennis tournaments in the UK and France. In golf, one of the Majors is staged annually in the UK. European football has never been stronger, with Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK all boasting domestic leagues full of international stars. Europe also plays host to key events in the athletics, skiing, cricket, rugby and Formula One calendar.
But it is the global sporting events that are the most sought after. The 2004 Summer Olympic Games will be staged in Athens. This will be only the third time in more than 30 years that the games have been staged in Europe. In 2006, Turin will stage the Olympic Winter Games and once again, although Europe has been a regular home for these games, more non-European countries have the facilities and desire to host them.
In 2006 the Football World Cup will be held in Germany. Not an unusual move, because since the World Cup was first staged in 1930 it has largely alternated between Europe and central and South America, thereby ensuring that it was staged in Europe at least every eight years. However, the sport’s governing bodies have realised the true value that staging events in untapped markets can have. In 1994, the Football World Cup took place in the US, then, after France ’98, it moved to Asia in 2002.
The next four years will see an unprecedented amount of top class sport in Europe. Sponsors will need to make the most of it because the competition for hosting major events is becoming much more intense, with a higher proportion of countries able to stage global showpiece tournaments. Major international sponsors receive outstanding coverage and benefits wherever events are held, but there is much more for sponsors to take advantage of if the event takes place in their own backyard.
Nigel Currie is director of the GEM Group and chairman of the European Sponsorship Consultants Association