Page 2: Benefits for sponsors
Unlike broadcasters, the revenue raised by the FA is invested in the game. One of the key benefits for sponsors is being able to prove to their target markets that they are actively involved in adding benefit to the sport, rather than just paying to be there.
This is one of the crucial advantages that sponsorship has over advertising. Such investment begins to create a virtuous circle - as a company invests in its property or new initiative, so that property thrives and awareness of the company increases. After establishing awareness can then come appreciation which can improve the image of a company. The company becomes more appealing, not just through its connection with football, but also through the belief that it is investing in something that its consumer shares.
This has been one of the most significant changes in the practice of sponsorship - initially perimeter boards to generate awareness and some tickets for entertainment were sufficient. Now companies need to demonstrate a real understanding and involvement with the sport to convince their consumers, improve their image and aid sales.
The Football Association's sponsorship programme - entitled Football Associates - has just passed the half-way point of its four-year duration. The creation of a new programme which will build upon successes and reflect the changing nature of sponsorship in the UK and overseas has already begun. Football Associates was constructed around the following properties:-
- The F.A. Cup - the nation's favourite sporting event and broadcast in 170 countries.
- The England Teams – international matches: men, women and all age groups.
- Women's Football - the fastest growing participant sport in the UK, F.A. Women's Challenge Cup with TV coverage.
- The F.A. Charity Shield - The F.A. Cup winners versus The Premier League champions, played at Wembley and raising money for charity.
- The F.A. Trophy - premier semi-professional Cup competition with a televised Final.
- The F.A. Vase - for semi-professional clubs, with a televised Final.
- The F.A. Youth Cup – involves young players, often the new talent for the larger clubs – televised semi-finals and finals.
- The F.A. Sunday Cup - England's only National Sunday Cup for the top 100 teams.
- The Charter for Quality - a nationwide programme to improve standards, including regional football academies, mini soccer, The F.A. Coaches Association.
These properties come with a tremendous customer base. In addition to the significant number of regular, loyal fans, many others are drawn to football for major occasions, such as England matches. The F.A. Cup Final is still a landmark event in the British - and world - sporting calendar, which attracts a television audience of hundreds of millions every year. Football - especially live football - offers unique access to a mass market: so large that companies ranging from cars to confectionery can each reach their different target markets through their enthusiasm for football.
Additionally, football is a tremendously emotive sport. A supporter's state of mind is affected by football. Psychologists argue a 'halo effect'. When you feel great about something, the positive feeling is carried forward into other aspects of your life. We all know that football is not always positive, however, and the game reaches into follower's psyche; it can be the sense of supporting through good times and bad that can add credibility to sponsor involvement.