Spurs’ sponsorship strategy will boost coffers but needs careful handling

Tottenham Hotspur’s decision to have two shirt sponsors could prove to bean innovative way of generating more commercial revenue while offeringpartners a route to a specific market, according to sponsorship experts.However, critics argue that the club risks diluting the sponsorship propertyfor short-term financial gain.

Tottenham

The club has just signed the first of what it hopes will be two sponsorship deals for next season. The name of IT firm Autonomy Corporation will adorn players’ shirts during Premier League matches next season, while the club is in talks with parties interested in having their name on display during Champions League, FA and Carling Cup games.

The Autonomy deal is said to be worth about £20m over two years, a significant improvement on the £8.5m per year previous sponsor online casino Mansion paid to have its name on shirts during matches played in all competitions.

A further packaged cup deal will therefore boost the club’s commercial coffers even further. It could also start a trend among English clubs struggling to get single sponsors to match or better existing deals, according to sponsorship experts.

Antony Marcou, managing director of sports media agency Sports Revolution, says the strategy could add value for both club and sponsor by creating bespoke properties.

“For example, a sponsor seeking to target audiences in Asia would find that many cup games take place in the evening here, meaning they are broadcast in the middle of the night in Asia. For a Europe-based sponsor, those matches are on air at peak viewing hours, so separate deals offer sponsors the chance to cut wastage and reach their main target audience,” he says.

However, others fear that the strategy could dilute the property’s equity. Karen Earl, chairman of the European Sponsorship Association and chair of sponsorship consultancy Synergy, says the strategy “smacks of a short-term view of trying to raise as much money as possible rather than a true marketing partnership”.

She adds: “Sponsorship is about relationship-building, continuity, support and long-term thinking. It’s not about short-term cash-raising, especially not at the cost of fans’ loyalty.”

From a purely commercial point of view, Spurs’ multi-shirt sponsorship strategy already looks to have been a success. It does not yet put them in the same league as rivals Liverpool and Manchester United, both of which have signed deals said to be worth £20m a year in the past 12 months, but it will help boost the club’s commercial standing and could provide a benchmark for others.

As Rupert Pratt, managing director of Generate Sponsorship puts it: “[The deal] “could completely change the landscape of football shirt sponsorship going forward”.

Find details of the Marketing Week Sponsorship Summit on 20/21 October at www.thesponsorshipsummit.com

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