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BKT retains French football footprint with Ligue 2 title deal

Indian specialist tyre company BKT will pay the Ligue de Football Professionnel between €2m ($2.2m) and €2.5m per year as title sponsor of Ligue 2, the second-tier French football league, from 2020-21 to 2023-24.

BKT made the move in the wake of the LFP’s decision to axe the Coupe de la League after this season. BKT is currently the cup competition’s title sponsor under a six-year deal, from 2018-19 to 2023-24, worth about €3m per year.

In September, the LFP opted to suspend future editions of the cup competition – cutting short BKT’s contract – given waning interest among broadcasters.

BKT will take over the Ligue 2 title role from Domino’s Pizza, which was reportedly paying between €1.3m and €1.5m per year in a four-year deal with the LFP, from 2016-17 to 2019-20. The French second division was without a title sponsor between 2008-09 and 2015-16. Telecoms firm Orange gave its name to the league between 2002-03 and 2007-08.

Didier Quillot, director general of the LFP, told French news sources that BKT will pay 50 per cent more than Domino’s, and at the level BKT pays as title sponsor of another second-tier national league – Serie B in Italy. SportBusiness understands the Serie B deal is worth about €2.5m per year over three years from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

BKT is also a global partner of Spain’s LaLiga in a three-year deal from 2019-20 to 2021-22.

Quick negotiation

SportBusiness understands conversations between BKT and LFP about the Ligue 2 position took place immediately after the league’s decision on the Couple de Ligue.

BKT was advised in negotiations by the Havas Sports & Entertainment agency, which also represented the brand in its Coupe de Ligue negotiations.

BKT decided the benefits of a Ligue 2 title sponsorship were similar to those of the Coupe de Ligue deal.

Lucia Salmaso, chief executive of BKT Europe, told SportBusiness that BKT began sponsoring French football in order to further strengthen BKT’s brand awareness in the country and reach every household.

“We chose to continue the partnership with Ligue de Football Professional by sponsoring Ligue 2 because – like the Serie BKT in Italy – the French second division is very important because it goes down to the provinces, to the rural market where our target customers live and operate.

“Ligue 2 is also an incubator and the place where the future champions grow up and we are happy to support the growth of these young talents and to help develop their careers. For us at BKT, this is also a very important point: being remembered as a sport-passionate and sport-supporting company.”

Business objectives

Western Europe is one of the biggest and most important markets for BKT, which manufacturers specialist tyres designed to equip tractors, harvesters, construction and mining machines, forklifts and other off-road vehicles.

Salmaso said: “We are focusing heavily in France, Italy and Spain. In these countries we have been selling our products over last two decades and the products have been well accepted thanks to their excellent quality and the aftersales service.

“For these specific reasons our sport sponsorships were born. Our strategy is always the same: we will work hard during these years and continue focusing on activities that involve fans and give them unique experiences so that they can enjoy and at the same time remember us.”

In France, analysis of brand recall after the 2018-19 football season revealed that 12 per cent of the public sampled recalled the BKT brand. After the 2018-19 season in Italy, BKT’s brand awareness increased from 14 per cent to 27 per cent.

In the new deal, BKT will have visibility across multiple platforms, including LED board advertising, as was the case with the Coupe de la Ligue, branding on the players’ shirt sleeves and in video clips on big screens. BKT will also feature strongly in Ligue 2’s digital activities, on the official website with specific editorial content, and on social networks.

Additional reporting by Martin Ross.