Tuesday 8 December 2009

Have you contacted your Sponsor Today?

Sports sponsorship is generally either sponsorship of an event, a league, a governing body, a particular team or individual or the broadcast of an event. Therefore, one can define those capable of being sponsored as “properties”, to use the correct marketing language. 

In becoming involved in sponsorship, “brand owners” are buying a right to associate themselves with these events, organisations and people in order to achieve a number of strategic objectives. These can include, increased brand awareness, achieving greater market share, enhancing reputation or perhaps for social reasons.

When seeking a sponsor one should also remember that sponsorship scores very highly in helping brands create and share “an experience” with their target audiences. This marketing philosophy is highly relevant to corporate straregt and should be remembered when approaching a sponsor. More importantly, sponsorship is a commercial transaction and therefore must deliver “value” for all parties concerned.

One key issue to be addressed by both parties is a measurable expectation or objective. If this is not agreed at the outset the relationship will not meet either side’s expectations.

Always in any sponsorship agreement one should be concerned about the fine line between the true costs and likely benefits of sponsorship as well. To ensure that a sponsorship is really effective it is common for the associated expenditure to be twice the agreed sum. In other words, to make a sponsorship valuable there must be additional spend to make it achieve its commercial objectives. 

This type of detail needs to be clarified when formalising any sponsorship agreement.

When you look around at the sponsors that involve themselves with the national loccer  leagues of European countries the one thing that is consistent is the strength of the brand names. 

One does not have to travel much further than the Premiership to see AIG adorning Manchester United shirts; Samsung on Chelsea kit; Carlsberg with Liverpool Football Club. If you look at  La Liga in Spain BWIN.com sponsor Real Madrid and in Serie-A in Italy Pirelli partner with Inter Milan. 

FC Barcelona have no sponsor but have committed the space on their team shirts to the charity UNICEF. 

Utmost with any sponsorship realtionship is that when the contract period expires the commercial partners may consider extending the agreement or continuing an involvement. It is this task that often becomes harder in the everyday battle and can be downside if the smallest issues are overlooked. Or can offer the most value and perhaps reinforce long-term links.

For instance, the proper presentation of a sponsors logo or trademark can be a vital start to setting things off on the right foot with any commercial partner. Too often in the speed and rush to get started things can go wrong and can unsettle any commercial relationship at the early stages. It is important therefore in the rush to collect sponsorship money and that  all promotion items are completed to the specification and quality required by the sponsor.

In other words the corporate standards of the sponsor matter.

Taking the money and running is only a short-term solution and does ntheerfot encourage longer-term partnerships. Therefeore the key issue always being to give back to the sponsor “value” to maximise the exposure beyond the iimmediate value. Such a proactive emphasis is important and reinforces the partnership to the sponsor's target audience.

Undoubtedly sponsors always feel they have overpaid for any event or property. Therefore be quick to give back and this could include addtitional complementary hospitality, priority access to events; preferential choice for tickets for any other major events. This will allow for the commercial relationship to expand beyond the terms of the contract and also broaden the communication between the two sides.

Too often these simple details are forgotten in the rush to balance the books or get money into the coffers.

Failing to give back to the sponsor decreases the mutual benefits accruing to both sides leaving the sponsors feeling under appreciated. It is only human nature and despite some of the most complex sponsorship theories, most deals are down to the human relationships between the relevant parties.

On the corporate side though it is important to be aware that sponsors budgets can change and marketing managers can also move on. So beware agreements do no last forever. 

With any sponsorship agreement always remember there are many other opportunities for sponsors to support and in sport, unfortunately, there are always other ectors that can offer greater appeal that can attract money in lieu of your property. So you need to always ask how well the sponsors are being serviced by your organisation.

Always remember it must make commercial sense for both parties. It is great to get the money but if you are not in regular touch with the sponsors you will not know if they are a happy. If you are the only partner that is happy then only side maybe benefiting and there will be a lesser chance of a long-term partnership.

So have you contacted your sponsors today?

Monday 7 December 2009

Grazie Trapatonni


Having accrued numerous honours during nearly five decades in football Giovanni Trapatonni still remains active and at 68 is currently relishing the challenge of ensuring that Austrian outfit, SV Red Bull Salzburg, retained the championship title they won the previous season when Lothar Matthaus was his assistant.

The Italian supremo heralded his arrival to Austria by securing the national title in his first season and with the support of the wealthy club owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, who also happens to be the founder of Red Bull, the richest club in the country are expected to retain the title this season after the end of the winter break.

Trapatonni’s coaching career spans over three decades and has managed eight different teams - Juventus, Inter, Bayern Munich, Cagliari, Fiorentina, Benfica, Stuttgart and Salzburg -  wining 23 trophies in all. Amidst these are ten championship titles spread over four different countries of which seven league triumphs came during his time in Italy.

In Germany he won a Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich in 1997 and another title in Portugal with Benfica in 2005. 

In terms of records Trapatonni lies third on the all-time European list alongside Austrian coach Ernst Happel and the 23 trophies place him behind two Scots, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jock Stein who each have 26.

Amidst all the glory and success there are a couple of less glorious moments on the exceptional CV the major one being his time managing Italy between 2000 and 2004. Beaten in the Round of 16 at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan Italy went one worse at the EURO 2004 when they exited in the first round in Portugal.

His second time at Bayern Munich was more controversial than the previous stint but winning the league title spared his reputation after a fall out with some key players at the club. Years later he returned to Germany but with Stuttgart and all ended after eight months when Stuttgart won only five games in 20 matches in 2005.

The club president at the time of his departure at Vfb Stuttgart said "Giovanni Trapatonni is an absolute gentleman and one of the most successful trainers in the world. Nevertheless, his work with the team has not been as efficient and successful as we had hoped."

When the Republic of Ireland were drawn in the same qualifying group as Italy for the 2010 Word Cup in South Africa it must have been appealing to Trapatonni to take on his country of birth.

Born on St Patricks Day the trip to South Africa should have been a fairy tale finish. However it was not to be..

Thursday 3 December 2009

Murphy and Thornton Secure European Tour Cards

A four under par round by Gary Murphy ensured tied 16th place on the final day of European Tour Qualifying at the PGA Golf de Catalunya near Girona on Thursday. The marathon journey of the past six days ended in success with the Kilkenny man regaining his card exactly ten years after winning it for the first time.

Murphy was the only Irish player on the European Tour not to retain his card for 2010 having failed to finish inside the top 115 in the Race to Dubai money list.  At the Australian Masters last month Murphy needed a top 15 finish to secure an automatic place but ended up in a tie for 36th. Rather than rely on invites for the 2010 season he decided to go to back to qualifying school.

Gary Murphy started out in the golfing scene as a caddy when he was 11 years old and was also a keen soccer player, having trials for Ireland’s Under-13 and Under-15 teams. However, he decided to concentrate on his golf and went on to win the Irish Amateur Closed Championship in 1992.  He turned professional in 1995.

In 1997 he won the Asian Tour qualifying school and played two seasons on that tour in addition to competing on the second tier European Challenge Tour. In 1999 he finally won his European Tour card at the final qualifying school and in 2005 went on to win the Azores Open.

Simon Thornton was the other Irish qualifier to secure his Tour card in Girona after a one under par round on the last day proved enough to hold on to a Tied 26th place.

After ending the first nine on level par, following a bogey and a birdie, the Newcastle resident then birdied the 10th and 17th. But a bogey on the last hole of the six day marathon nearly undid all the good work of the previous day.

In the end he walked off the course with an aggregate of 480 strokes and a 1 under par total score which was enough to secure him automatic playing rights on the European Tour for the first time.

Following four previous attempts over last the four years Thornton finally found fortune this time around.

Niall Kearney of Royal Dublin signalled his intent and talent all week despite failing to earn his tour card on the first attempt. A final round of 2 under left him 17 places adrift of the mark with an aggregate of 421 and 7 under for the event.

For 2010 Niall Kearney is eligible to play on The European Challenge Tour.

England's Simon Kahn emerged the overall winner but not after a very mixed day as he signed for a triple bogey, 3 bogeys and 3 birdies to give him a 2 over round for a total of 20 under. He was one shot ahead of fellow English man, Simon Hutsby on 19 under and Scotland's Stephen Gallacher on 18 under.

Since 1976, The European Tour Qualifying School has been held at the end of each season to establish which players, not otherwise exempt, will gain their playing privileges on the Tour for the following season through a qualifying competition.

This years qualifying was no different to other years as it again delivered drama and disappointment in equal measure.  Amongst the names returning for the 2010 season after an absence are Scotland’s Andrew Coltart and Scott Drummond, along with the Swedish pair, Jarmo Sandlin and Patrik Sjoland.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Simon Thornton Leads Irish Challenge Into Last Round

The drama of the European Tour final qualifying continued on Wednesday on the Stadium Course at the PGA Catalunya for the last three remaining Irish players with each experiencing the lows and highs at different times during the day.

Former Royal County Down Assistant Simon Thornton blitzed through his first nine holes with 5 birdies making the turn in 31 strokes, which moved him as high as 18th place at one stage.

On the back nine Thornton suffered on two consecutive holes, first with a double bogey on the par 3 fifth hole and then a bogey on the 6th hole to reverse his fortunes. However, Birdies on the 11th, 16th and 18th made for a five under for day and a total of 9 under overall.

Thornton is placed 25th overnight with one round remaining.

Kilkenny’s Gary Murphy poor form continued on the first tee as he started off on the 10th hole with a double bogey. This was then followed by a bogey on the 11th hole. But seven birdies and ten pars on the remaining holes ensured a recovery to finish on 3 under giving him a total of 7 under and tied 34th place overnight.

Niall Kearney of Royal Dublin found less reward on the second last day on the Stadium Course when a 2 over par 72 pushed him down 26 places to tied 50th place. His fortunes contrasted to yesterday’s explosive finish when sixteen pars and two consecutive bogeys on the 9th and 10th holes were his return on the day’s efforts.

The event leader Simon Khan of England went two strokes better than par for a total of 22 under to stretch the lead from his next challenger, fellow countryman Sam Hutsby, on 16 under. Argentina's Clodomiro Carranza was in third place on 15 under.

The most dramatic move off the day was from Charlie Ford who moved down 31 places when a nine over par round for the day placed him in tied 34th place. The Englishman started off in third place when he teed off in the morning on 16 under.

The leading 30 players after tomorrow’s final round (plus those tied for 30th place) will earn Category 11b Membership of The European Tour for 2010, which expires at the end of that season.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Kearney, Murphy and Thornton Make the Cut

An Eagle three holes from home by Niall Kearney of Royal Dublin signalled his intent on the fourth day of Final Qualifying School and easily secured him a place in the final rounds starting on Wednesday.

However a couple of bogeys on two of the last three holes prevented what looked like a stunning top ten finish. In the end he had to settle for tied 24th overall.

Kearney will tee off in the final two rounds on Wednesday morning as the leading Irish contender despite this being his first time at Final Qualifying School.

This has been a good year for Kearney having earlier won the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship – better known as the Brabazon Trophy - an event open to male amateur golfers of all Nationalities. He was also a member of the GB and Ireland 2009 Walker Cup team which lost to the United States last September at the Merion Club in Pennsylvania.

Kilkenny’s Gary Murphy, the leading Irish man overnight, slipped over 50 places during the day and almost beyond safety when five bogeys left him scrapping to regain his Tour card. Three vital birdies and an aggregate of 280 then ensured he would remain at the PGA Catalunya for the final two rounds on 49th place on the leader board.

Simon Thornton managed to recover from an even par first nine holes after two bogeys to then card three birdies on the 10th, 16th and 17th holes for a 69 and a total of 3 under par. His aggregate score of 280 placed him tied 49th alongside Murphy to also ensure he had a further role to play over the coming days.

But a double bogey on the par four 10th hole on the Tour Course left Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell with a lot of work to do on the run into the clubhouse. Then a triple bogey on the 18th finally concluded his challenge as his two over par 72 left him level par for the four days in joint 95th place.

Glasson’s Colm Moriarty fell short of the cut on the last day after a four over par pushed him into a tie for 114th place. Four bogeys in his final round left him with a 2 over par total bringing his 2010 Tour School efforts to a close,

John Kelly ended his second appearance at Qualifying School with a superb three under par 67 but it was not enough to improve an aggregate total of 290 and a total of 6 over par. Kelly finished in 134th place.

The overnight leader Simon Khan surged ahead to complete his fourth round in 20 under par and aggregate of 264 at PGA Golf de Catalunya with Alejandro CaƱizares of Spain in second place three shots behind. Third place went to Charlie Ford of England who slipped two places after a two under par 70 left him 16 under.

Earlier today there had been a one hour fifteen minute delay in Girona after early morning frost delayed the start of the fourth Round.

Since 1976, The European Tour Qualifying School has been held at the end of each season to establish which players, not otherwise exempt, will gain their playing privileges on the Tour for the following season through a qualifying competition.

The Qualifying School is held in three stages at a series of venues in the UK and Continental Europe. In 2009, the initial 72 hole event - known as the First Qualifying Stage – was split in two sections (Section A and Section B) and played from 15-18 September.

The Second Qualifying Stage was played over 72 holes on November 20 - 23 with the Final Stage currently taking place over 108 holes (six rounds) at PGA Golf de Cataluyna.

The leading 30 players after the next two rounds (plus those tied for 30th place) will earn Category 11b Membership of The European Tour for 2010, which expires at the end of that season.