Sainsbury’s is in talks with the Government about helping to plug the £79m funding gap for athletes hoping to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games. It is thought the supermarket chain will support the Medal Hopes scheme due to be revealed later this month.
Fast Track, the agency appointed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport earlier this year to raise money from the private sector to fund elite sportsmen and women, is holding discussions with Sainsbury’s.
The details of how a deal might be structured remain unclear but plans will need to be in place before December when UK Sport, the body that allocates funding for elite sport, determines how much each Olympic sport will receive for the four years up to London 2012.
There is a shortfall in funding for athletes due to a deal struck with the Treasury in 2006. It was agreed that a £600m package for UK Sport, to help train British athletes between Beijing 2008 Olympics and London 2012, would be composed of £300m from the National Lottery, £200m from the Treasury and £100m from the private sector.
In June this year Marketing Week revealed the Government had failed to raise any money at all from commercial partners (MW.co.uk, June 26). Following this, a £21m contribution was secured from the National Lottery, leaving a shortfall of £79m.
The DCMS has since admitted it not realise that it had no sponsorship rights to sell when the Government promised to raise the £100m of private sector money (MW August 28).