Norwich Union has signed a £20m agreement with UK Athletics,
the biggest ever commercial investment in the future of the sport.
The deal, which will see the insurance giant continue its title
sponsorship of domestic athletics events until 2006, replaces the
current agreement, worth £10m over four years.
The sponsorship deal is crucial for athletics, as it will help secure
financial stability for the sport until well after the Olympic Games in
Athens in 2004.
Under its terms, NU will continue to provide headline sponsorship of the
UK's major athletics events, such as the British Grand Prix, which is
televised live by the BBC. It will also be the title sponsor of the
British senior, junior and under-23 athletics teams.
More than 20% of the sponsorship funding will be invested at grass-roots
level and in development initiatives, as part of NU's strategy of
positioning itself at the heart of local communities.
The programmes include star:track, a nationwide 'come and try' scheme
designed to introduce youngsters to athletics. Sports:hall is a
competitive indoor project for eight- to 15-year-olds. Shine: awards, is
a national scheme to improve athletics performance and encourage
participation. Agility:challenge in- troduces children to the sport.
NU Insurance chief executive Patrick Snowball said: "(The sponsorship)
works at many levels, providing an excellent platform for the marketing
programmes supporting our brand, as well as giving us the opportunity to
invest back in communities."