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UK crowned number one in sports sponsorship market

LONDON - The UK has been crowned the fastest growing sports market in EMEA over the next five years by a new global entertainment and media study.

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In one of the most extensive reviews of the global entertainment and media market (2008-2012), management consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that UK revenues from sports sponsorship -- including merchandising, online, mobile and other revenue streams such as hospitality as well as gate receipts and lucrative TV rights -- will grow from $10.2bn in 2007 to $15.8bn in 2012, representing a 9.1% annual growth.

Comparable growth projections for the same period show that the UK will leave its European neighbours in its wake, with France on 4.9%, Germany on 5.6%, Italy on 6.4% and Spain on 5.8%.

On a global basis, sports sponsorship is predicted to increase from $42.7bn in 2007 to just under $60bn by 2012, representing a 7% in growth year on year for the sector. If gate receipts and TV rights are added, the global value of sports marketing swells from $102.6bn in 2007 to a lofty $140.6bn by 2012.

Much of the growth in sports sponsorship is due to a large number of factors, including the experience of brand owners who have invested in sports sponsorship at international and local levels over a long period of time, as well as the deployment of mobile and online channels in reaching youth audiences and customer segments, say the report's authors.

A key trend over this period are the peaks in sponsorship activity around major sporting events at regular two-year intervals -- Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, Vancouver Olympic Games in 2010, Fifa World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and the London Olympic Games in 2012.

In the UK, sports sponsorship growth has principally been fuelled by: new rights deals for the FA Premier League, domestically and internationally; by a general increase in sponsorship expenditure as brand owners become more proficient in the activation of sponsorship; and as a direct result of increasing levels of professionalism and commercial acumen amongst leading sports rights holders and governing bodies.

Football remains the single most important sport in driving sports sponsorship growth in the UK over the next four years. Premier League clubs are now global brands in their own right, which is likely to fuel fewer but significantly larger sponsorship deals with global brand owners in the future.

Julie Clark, PWC director and one of the report's authors, said: "What's interesting is that these clubs are acknowledging their wider role in the community by partnering with charities, for example, Aston Villa FC recently partnered with Acorns Children's Hospice in a similar shirt sponsorship deal to that of Barcelona and Unicef.

"Leaving shirt sponsorship deals aside, there's still debate around the appropriateness of naming rights deals for all new stadia. It's important that sports rights holders get the balance right or risk potentially alienating fans who ultimately form the bedrock of a club's long-term support."

Given the uncertainty around the future of Formula 1, the report's authors feel that sponsors will find other properties to invest in should they decide to leave F1 and it's highly unlikely that there will be any damage to the amount invested in the sports sponsorship sector.

As brand owners catch their breath post-2012, the sports sponsorship market in the UK is unlikely to show any signs of slowing down, argues Clark.

She said: "I don't think there will be a decline because you've still got the base growth that's going on in terms of every other sport and in particular the continued investment in football. We've also got another big event coming up with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 which will help to keep the focus on the UK as a place for sports sponsorship well into the future."

The full report, Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2008-2012 forecasts and economic analyses of 15 industry segments is available from www.pwc.com/outlook

Ardi Kolah is a global marketing and brand partnership consultant and author of Sponsorship Works: A Brand Marketer's Casebook, published by SportBusiness (www.sportbusiness.com). He can be contacted on +44 (0)207 323 1587 ardi@kolah.com

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