Sponsorship begins at home

Questions are starting to be raised over the decision of some African corporates to sign expensive sponsorship deals with top European football clubs and funneling money away from their domestic footall.

There are numerous examples of global and domestic companies having signed regional sponsorship deals that allow them to associate their products with the top European teams .Two such examples is of a telecommunications giant and an oil company, having invested millions in signed deals with top European clubs in the English Premier League. In return they receive some match tickets, memorabilia to give away to customers, a coaching clinic hosted by former players, as well as the right to use the club’s logo on merchandising.

But, the feeling is that there are two major concerns for the beautiful game with this growing trend across the continent. Firstly, that is money that is leaving African football and heading away from the continent. An injection such as that could do wonders for domestic football, junior development and improving facilities in the country.

Secondly, the sponsorship helps only to grow the brand and popularity of top European  teams  on the continent to the detriment of local clubs and the domestic leagues. So not only does the European teams receive a substantial sum of money, but they also effectively get free advertising and promotion, pushing further back the ambitions of local clubs and the development of the locally sponsored game in the country. This is but one example of many such deals being done across the continent including in southern Africa .

Some countries are placed better than most to weather such a scenario as they already have strong development structures, but in others, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, such sums of money could fund development programmes for a number of years.While there is nothing to stop corporates from entering these agreements, there is perhaps a moral debate of whether they are spending their marketing budget in a manner which ultimately will benefit their consumers. While there is certainly brand affinity associated with such deals, but are they actually looking after the best interests of consumers and the countries in which they operate?

Consumer spending in Africa already accounts for nearly two thirds of the continent’s gross domestic product and is expected to double to $ 1trillion by 2020 , reaching $2.2 trillion by 2030 .There are already 900 million consumers in Africa and the region’s total population is expected to be more than double to 2.4 billion by 2050, making it bigger than that of either India or China.

* Tiro Kganela is Head of BTCL Sponsorships and Consumer Public Relations.

Editor's Comment
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