UK Athletics is seeking £1.2m for the title sponsorship of
the bulk of its grass-roots athletics programmes. The decision comes as
part of an overhaul that will allow a commercial partner to tap into
government efforts to get young people involved in the sport.
The governing body is working with sports marketing consultancy Fast
Track, which handles all UK Athletics commercial rights, to bring in a
major brand as the title backer. The package will comprise curriculum
activity, national schools championships, young athletes' leagues, and
all clubs and competitive events.
There has never previously been a title sponsor for such a broad range
of grass-roots athletics events. UK Athletics had been expected to
secure different sponsors for individual properties.
Fast-food giant McDonald's, which has sponsored the young athletes'
league for seven years, has decided not to renew its involvement in
order to focus its efforts elsewhere. The National Schools Championships
were last sponsored by TSB in a deal that ended in 1997.
Fast Track head of business development Marc Hope, who joined the
consultancy from the New Millennium Experience Company last year, said
discussions were already under way with a number of firms about the
combined grass-roots package.
"We are talking to several interested parties," said Hope. "We are
looking for a brand to come on board and get involved in making
grass-roots athletics a success in the UK."
The sponsor search comes as UK Athletics steps up its commercial
activity on the back of a recent £20m deal with Norwich Union.
This deal includes a number of initiatives from elite levels through to
grass-roots (Marketing, September 20). Other partners include Reebok,
Isostar and AquaPura.
UK Athletics is also planning to launch its first affinity credit card
in partnership with MBNA, from which all proceeds will go to grass-roots
investment. Benefits to cardholders will include discounted tickets to
top-class athletics events.
Separately, Rover, already a partner of UK Athletics, has launched a
programme to discover the UK's multi-event stars of the future. The
Rover Combined Events Initiative was launched by British decathlete Dean
Macey, and Olympic gold medallist in the heptathlon, Denise Lewis.