Good to hear Nigel Wood on West Yorkshire Sport yesterday talking about the sponsorship portfolio for rugby league. The RFL are confident that this year will be the best year ever for commercial revenue into the sport and that what is most important is maximizing income, and not necessarily worrying whether SL has a title sponsor or not.
He likened it to the champions league in soccer which has a portfolio of partners and said that a number of new deals will be announced over the next 14 - 28 days. He also said one of the key tests was for the game not to undersell itself, but to hold out for the true value of our sport, and to hold our nerve when it gets close to the deadline, otherwise sponsors would always think they could wait until close to the start of the comp, then get the sponsorship for a knock down price.
Two things. When times are tough, one of the first costs businesses tend to cut back on is marketing budget.
Also timing is fairly important. Assuming the sponsor search has been ongoing since the summer and they want it to start in February, then the RFL is looking to sign up a sponsor 'in year' that is half to 3/4 way thru the current financial year when you would expect budgets to be pretty fixed/ inflexible. A big ask I would have thought, even the largest companies aren't necessarily going to have a spare million or so just sloshing around unspent in their budgets.
With hindsight, they should have probably kept on with Stobart thru to the end of 2013, thereby giving commercial more time to work with prospective title sponsors and get the sponsors marketing spend fixed well ahead of time. At the same time, I'm sure they could have done more to increase the portfolio of sponsors who could have helped increase the £'s coming in.
I can see that there may not be a title sponsor announcement until closer to April. Or there may not even be one in 2013, but they have one lined up with the budget to spend from February 2014.