A whole new ball game as race for sponsorship deals ready to kick off
IT's shaping up to be an interesting old year on the sponsorship front with Eircom preparing to bow out of the national soccer team, Irish Distillers already bowing out of the Grand National and the main Gaelic sponsors considering their options ahead of imminent renewals.
The biggest talking points are the amount of money that sponsorships will command this time round, as well as the new brands who will be throwing their hats into the ring for some of Ireland's hottest property.
With an annual price tag of €1.5m and an incumbent sponsor who has reportedly already decided to hit the hills, the national soccer team sponsorship is generating the most attention.
Slattery's Director of Sport James Wynne suggests Airtricity as a good fit since they've recently signed up for the League of Ireland, with Paddy Power as another runner, reflecting the betting giant's many years as a "faithful supporter" of the FAI.
John Trainor, head of sponsorship agency Onside, moots telecos and energy companies as likely suitors since both categories are "particularly active" on the international sponsorship scene. "You couldn't totally rule out financials," he says, while admitting it could be a tough trick of a nationalised bank to pull off.
Both experts seem confident the FAI will get a decent price this time round, as will the GAA and the IRFU when their rights come up for renewal, but the same can't be said for more marginal sponsorships. "The premier property is managing to hold its ground but we're seeing deflation varying from 10pc to as much as 40 or 50pc on some second tier stuff," says Trainor, while Wynne says the amount brands are spending "activating" sponsorships has fallen significantly.
The hefty deflation puts sponsorship within the grasp of companies who would previously have been priced out, while the general economic climate is steadily re-ordering the business landscape. "Already furniture retailers like Reids and Harvey Norman are very active internationally, as are health products," says Trainor.
"We'll be seeing a new breed of sponsors over the next decade and they may not be the usual suspects."