Drinks industry fears move to ban sport sponsorship

The pounds 40m that drinks companies pour into British sports sponsorship every year is under threat from a controversial French plan to ban drinks advertising for international sporting events. However, as Andrew Yates reports, new European legislation could bring cheer to the British drinks industry.

A move by the French Government to enforce a ban on sports sponsorship from alcoholic drinks companies could put pressure on them to withdraw advertising from big sporting events.

There are growing fears that the European Commission (EC) has decided to ignore a complaint from the drinks industry over France's decision to ban domestic drinks advertising, a controversial policy known as Loi Evin. The EC has again delayed a final decision on whether to uphold the complaint after furious lobbying from French Eurocrats. "There is a feeling they want to sweep this under the carpet," said one source in Brussels.

The decision could have potentially devastating consequences for the UK sports industry. Drinks companies are involved in sponsoring every major sports including Carling Black Label's support for football's premier league and the new deal Tetley Bitter has recently signed to back the English cricket team. Major sporting events such as the Stella Artois tennis tournament and the Martell Grand National could also be affected. The sponsorship market in the UK is worth an estimated pounds 350m a year. Drinks companies account for about 12 per cent of this, or more than pounds 40m a year. US drinks company Budweiser has also run into trouble coping with the strict ban on drinks advertising and the move has raised a question mark over sponsorship of this years World Cup in France. If the EC chooses to ignore the issue and effectively back France's position, it could cause huge problems for the coverage of some of the UK's largest sporting events. French TV producers are putting enormous pressure on organisers to remove any form of drinks advertising from sporting arenas and are threatening to withdraw coverage from events if their demands are not met. The situation has got so bad that two big recent sporting events were banned completely. French viewers were faced with a blank screen when they tried to tune into a European football tie between Arsenal and Auxerre and an Irish rugby game from Dublin.

The sports industry is becoming increasingly worried that drinks companies could withdraw from sponsorship if French TV stations persist in banning events.

The move has caused an outcry from the British drinks companies. The European Sponsorship Consultants' Association (ESCA), an industry-wide body set up to lobby against the French policy, is outraged by the continuing wrangles in Brussels.

"We want this to be stopped and are trying to alert people to the danger. There is a fear that this could spread to other countries in Europe and make life very difficult for sponsors," said Helen Day, a sponsorship expert with the ESCA.

However, a green paper, which experts believe will be adopted by the EC later this year, is likely to bring hope to the drinks companies. It promotes the principle of free trade between countries and should give the drinks companies a powerful weapon in their battle with the French Government. They hope the paper will give them right to show drinks sponsored sports events throughout Europe.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine