British Cycling steps up pursuit of sponsors amid scandals

British Cycling is overhauling its sponsorship strategy to attract brands looking to forge more long-term ties to professional cycling, a move that comes as sponsors question their future in the sport in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

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British Cycling revamps its sponsorship strategy to encourage brands to pen more long-term deals.

The organising body will look to focus discussions with potential partners around grassroots events rather than just major tournaments such as next year’s Track Cycling World Championships.

The organisation says sponsorship strategies will be framed around its annual calendar of domestic initiatives including its coaching scheme for children and women’s cycling programme Breeze.

It is hoped the move will encourage existing sponsors such as Adidas and Gatorade as well potential partners to adopt a more long-term approach to their activations as the organisation steps up its efforts to convince people to take up track cycling.

Paul Rowlands, marketing manager for Cycle Sport at British Cycling, says the strategy does not signal an end for sponsorships around major cycling competitions and will also look to create ongoing partnerships around them through legacy initiatives.

British Cycling’s pursuit of long-term partners comes at a time when sponsors are turning their backs on professional cycling after the US Anti-Doping Agency accused former cycling champion Lance Armstrong of being at the centre of an elaborate doping scheme. Dutch co-operative Radobank ended its 17-year relationship with men’s and women’s professional Dutch cycling teams last Friday (19 October) just days after several of Armstrong’s major sponsors including Nike and AB Inbev announced they were walking away from the athlete.

When asked about the effects the allegations would have on the revamped strategy, British Cycling declined to comment.

Nigel Currie, director of sports marketing and sponsorship at Brand Rapport says the recent scandals do make the sport less appealing to sponsors. He adds: “Sponsors don’t want to be seen taking instant decisions or reacting immediately to a news scandal. But this can only last so long. Do they cut their to avoid contamination from cycling’s dark doping past or stand by the sport and its young talent in the view that Armstrong’s demise represents the start of a new era.”

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