Sponsors eager to join Ireland’s Euro 2016 bandwagon

The Republic of Ireland’s poor showing at Euro 2012 hasn’t dented the fervour of fans willing to cheer on the Boys in Green in France this, year if ticket applications to Uefa are anything to go by, and the commercial sector seems just as keen to hitch itself to Martin O’Neill’s bandwagon.

The latest ONSIDE Irish Sponsorship Industry Survey, released yesterday, revealed that eight in 10 Irish sponsors see the Euros, where the Republic are grouped with Sweden, Belgium, and Italy, as an opportunity to engage with their consumers, compared to just 45% four years ago.

Two in three sponsors saw last year’s Rugby World Cup in similar terms while just 45% believe the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro possess similar possibilities.

Clearly, when it comes to sport and business, it is association football that remains king.

The approaching European Championships, allied to the emergence of new sponsor sectors and a decade-high growth rate of 10% in 2015, has resulted in a predicted growth of half that for the Irish sponsorship sector in the current calendar year. All told, the worth of the sponsorship market is expected to reach €158 million in 2016 with almost half of sponsors planning to increase their spend this year and a record 38% now forking out over a fifth of their marketing budget on sponsorship.

Among the other interesting findings was the declaration that venue naming rights were ranked fourth in terms of perceived opportunities for sponsors this year with one in three Irish rights holders “currently exploring the options around selling”.

Munster chief executive Garret Fitzgerald, for one, admitted recently that such a move regarding Thomond Park was not off the table.

Players, too, are prime real estate, and Paul O’Connell’s retirement from Test rugby, his injury in the World Cup and the move to Toulon weren’t enough to prevent him from topping the list of most marketable personalities.

Conor McGregor has shot up the rankings to second on the back of his wildly-successful 2015 inside and outside the octagon, Rory McIlroy sits third, Katie Taylor’s Olympic duties were enough to instal her in fourth while Robbie Henshaw is surprisingly high, given his youth, at fifth.

ONSIDE founder and chief executive John Trainor has also predicted an “escalation in the debate around political and ethical matters relating to sponsorship both globally and locally” in the wake of the decision made by adidas to sever its ties with the scandal-hit International Association of Athletics Federation.

“The nature of the decision not just to waive the right to renew post the end of the contract term in 2019, but to actually terminate ahead of the Olympics this summer is a major new stand by a sponsor,” said Trainor.

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