Onside says sponsors accept fall in spectators

As sports events including the Guinness 6 Nations and GAA Championships shape up for a return to play next month, almost half – 46 per cent – of the Irish sports industry believe major sports events will proceed with reduced capacity of up to a quarter of attendees across the remainder of the year, a report by sponsorship agency Onside indicates.

In interviews with sponsors, rights holders, broadcasters and agencies from the Sport for Business industry group, it was found that seven in 10 stakeholders expect major sports events to be hosting between quarter and a half of attendees by the first half of 2021. Just a quarter expect venues to be over three quarters full before 2022, unless a vaccine is available.

Commenting on the impact of Covid-19 on the Irish sports sponsorship market to date, John Trainor, Onside founder and CEO, said that while eight per cent of sponsors say they have already dropped out of an existing sports sponsorship due to the pandemic and a further 17 per cent are considering stepping back from their current deals.

Revised fee

However, encouragingly a similar 17 per cent have entered into new sponsorships since Covid-19 began. Sponsors have been increasingly looking to renegotiate a revised fee as the impact of empty stadia is more evident. The numbers considering fee changes to sponsorships affected by Covid-19 jumped from 27 per cent in June to 43 per cent this month.

In-venue apps that allow for pre-order food at half time scored highly as an opportunity by 67 per cent surveyed about how sponsors can support future safety measures. The industry research found AIB and Musgrave’s GAA partnerships and Bank of Ireland and Vodafone’s recent rugby initiatives as the stand-out sponsorships over the last two months.

Looking beyond 2020, levels of optimism for recovery in the sports industry remain strong, with seven  in 10 industry practitioners expecting good recovery in sport in Ireland in the next couple of years. Concerns for the wider Irish economy, however, are at their most fragile since the pandemic began, with just four in 10 optimistic about the wider landscape.

Approval for the Government’s handling of Covid-19 was down by 13 per cent since June.

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