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British Athletics appoints PHAR in search for lead partner

DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 02: Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain reacts after competing in the Women's Heptathlon 100 metres hurdles during day six of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on October 02, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images for IAAF)

British Athletics has taken on sponsorship consultancy PHAR Partnerships to advise on the sale of its flagship Presenting Partner property from 2020.

The move comes in the wake of proposals from the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), the sport’s world governing body, that would allow sponsor-branding on the athletes’ kit at major international competitions such as the European and the World Athletics Championships.

It is thought likely the proposal will be ratified at the IAAF’s Congress in November.

Read this: IAAF likely to relax marketing regulations for athletes and member federations

The new lead partner opportunity will extend from the grassroots through to the elite British teams, encompassing a wide range of disciplines and events each year, including indoor grands prix, junior championships, para-athletics, cross-country, race walking, mountain, trail and ultra running.

Ryan Murphy, head of commercial sales at British Athletics, said: “We have created this opportunity to enable a brand to benefit from the ability of athletics to offer a wide-ranging, year-round platform to engage with audiences and communities across the UK.

 “It is important that we properly understand the true value of this opportunity – not just as a high-profile branding exercise but also in terms of the messages it will convey for a partner brand through association.”

Alastair MacDonald, managing director of PHAR, said the opportunity, which should include branding on athletes’ kits at the major competitions, “clearly represents real value to a sponsor.”

British Athletics has not had a lead partner since insurance group Aviva ended its £8.3m-($10.7m/€9.6m)-per-year contact at the end of 2012. The deal gave Aviva all-encompassing rights from the grassroots to title sponsorships of Team GB and all domestic televised meetings.

The national governing body subsequently switched to a group partnership structure, which now includes supermarket chain Spar, dairy products brand Müller, professional services company PwC and legal advisers Harper Macleod. Nike is the governing body’s kit supplier.

According to one industry source, the IAAF’s rule change on kit advertising has been desired by national federations for some time. “Athletics has not been able to realise the full value of  its partnerships,” the source said.

PHAR’s specialist Insight division has client experience with the Premier League, the Football Association, the Lawn Tennis Association, Women’s Tennis Association, Ryder Cup, Mercedes GP, O2, SSE, Lucozade, Zurich and Ricoh.

In September, the company appointed Tony Fernandes, the co-founder of Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia, as chairman.