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Non-Olympic sports lose out on major sponsorship

Interest in the Olympics is preventing events such as the Derby and Cowes Week from securing sponsors. It is understood that a number of key sporting events are struggling to find brands to take up sponsorship opportunities.

The Lawn Tennis Association, the English Cricket Board and World Snooker Championships are also among the high-profile events seeking a lead sponsor.

Sponsorship specialist Synergy chief executive Tim Crow says: "There is more and more activity devoted to the 'Olympic space' and this is reducing the level of interest in other sports rights holders. 90% of the approaches we have had in the past few weeks have been Olympic-related."

This year's Derby almost went ahead with no sponsor until Vodafone stepped in at the 11th hour for a one-year- only deal. The company had sponsored the classic race for 13 years but pulled out in 2007 and was persuaded to extend for a further year after no replacement was found.

Other events that have struggled to find a sponsor include sailing regatta Cowes Week, which has spent 18 months trying to find a replacement for financial services firm Skandia after it ended its 14-year association with the event.

The LTA is also seeking a sponsor for the Queen's Club championships following the end of its 30-year relationship with Stella Artois this year. Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion became the first Premier League club for many years to begin the season without a shirt sponsor.

Crow says the huge number of sponsorship properties on offer highlights that holders of the most premium properties have little trouble selling them and that there is money going into grassroots sports but those in the middle are "being squeezed".

Source: Marketing Week, 4 Sept 2008

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