INTEGRITY IN FOOTBALL SPONSORSHIP - LIVERPOOL ARE IN THE ″DOCK″
The FT today published a feature discussing the proposed partnership between Liverpool FC and Tibet Water. The sponsorship has provoked condemnation from human rights bodies bringing into focus the "Integrity in football sponsorship" once again.
The fight to drive revenues from sponsorship is greater now than ever. The challenge of football organizations to fund player salaries, leagues and global events is greater now than ever. So whilst the attraction of football itself has never been stronger, the scouring of the brand market place to unearth new sponsorship partners has now forced penetration away from the west into the emerging markets of the Far East, Asia, and Emirates.
FIFA has been forced to look to the east for sponsorship as their US and European partners (Continental, Castrol, Johnson & Johnson, and Sony) have "run for the hills" following the corruption revelations of `Blatter Gate`. Financially they are borderline in covering their resulting revenue gap but the business governance and social compliance of the new partners may not have been a defining negotiation consideration.
The EPL and its clubs must stand strong from an integrity perspective if its to remain the worlds No1 league and role model for football and society. The `social cancer` of betting and its sponsorship in football is slipping through the partnership `integrity net`. I`d suggest this due to the `endorsement` from the government who themselves receive huge tax benefits, replacing the dwindling tax revenues from tobacco.
In Paris last week, at the Assembly of Europe, the Committee of Governance in Sport, attended by 47 European government ministers and myself, debated the role sports organizations should play in society. The output was clear that "Sports governing and participating bodies should behave as role models in society with leadership in governance, compliance and social conscience".
Liverpool Football Club is one of the UK`s finest footballing exports. Its has a set of values that are driven by its stature, heritage, and honour that have been without doubt unquestionable. It`s world wide following is amongst the largest in football, with a breed of fan that is truly distinctive. But its brand is in serious danger of erosion if the correct due-diligence is not conducted around this proposed deal.
I am not passing judgment on the association with Tibet Water but I would say to Liverpool FC "YOU ARE THE COMPANY YOU KEEP"!
Toby Hester is the CEO of Sponsorship Coach and a Director of the European Sponsorship Association