The chairman of British Athletics has admitted the governing body expects to suffer a drop in sponsorship income in the run up to the Rio Olympics despite the huge success of the London Games last summer.
British Athletics announced Sainsburys as the title sponsors for this summer’s series of events culminating in the high-profile Anniversary Games in the Olympic Stadium. Later this week the athletes who have signed up to compete in the three-day event will be announced, with Usain Bolt expected to provide the highlight in the 100m in front of 65,000 on Friday, 26 July.
Sainsburys, who will continue as long-term backers of disability sport and Britain’s Paralympic team, are the first sponsors recruited by British Athletics since Aviva ended its £50m five-year deal at the end of last year. It was the largest sporting sponsorship in this country outside football. British Athletics decided to instead seek a core of four or five major backers, including a terrestrial TV deal, currently with the BBC until 2014, and a kit deal via adidas. But Ed Warner, British Athletics’ chairman, acknowledged the total will not equal what Aviva paid. Warner insisted looking for a “family” was a more realistic approach and gave them more “free money”, finance to spend where they wanted, than under the previous deal.
“In due course it will be a substantial proportion [of what Aviva paid] and the free money in that will be higher than under the Aviva deal,” said Warner. “The Olympic approach tells us a lot about spreading your risk over a number of partners. It’s quite difficult to sell an entire sport to one sponsor. The market has moved on from there.”
Tickets for the Anniversary Games go on sale on Friday morning but anyone interested must pre-register by midnight on Wednesday. The event will be the last held in the stadium before it undergoes major refurbishment ahead of West Ham United moving in.
The Sainsbury Summer Series will also include the Grand Prix, which will feature 11 Olympic medallists, and the British Championships in June and July both in Birmingham