The CSM Sport & Entertainment agency has been appointed by both SA Rugby and the British & Irish Lions as their official sponsorship agency to exclusively manage all sponsorship rights for the Lions 2021 Tour of South Africa.
The appointment of an exclusive sales agency for both rights-holders is a new model for Lions Tours.
CSM sold sponsorship rights on behalf of New Zealand Rugby and the Lions for the 2017 Lions Tour of New Zealand, but on a non-exclusive basis.
Crucially, CSM will seek brands for the main shirt sponsorships of the Springboks, the newly-crowned World Champions, and the Lions. Of these, the Lions property is the more valuable.
SportBusiness understands from sports industry sources that Standard Life paid around £6.25m ($8.3m/€7.3m) for the front-of-shirt rights on the Lions Tour of New Zealand in 2017, up on the approximately £5m HSBC had paid for the Lions Tour of Australia in 2013.
CSM will also be looking for partners for the title sponsor of the Tour, secondary sponsors and technical suppliers. It will manage the commercial delivery and partnership programme, as well as delivering key events for the Tour.
Sponsorship comprises between 60 to 70 per cent of Lions revenues per Tour.
Commenting on the deal, Matthew Vandrau, group chief executive of CSM, said: “The 2021 Tour represents a notable expansion of our existing working relationship having been involved in Lions Tours since 2009.
“We will lean on our global, in-house expertise in the sport – across the men’s and women’s game in 15s and Sevens – to ensure this innovative sponsorship model is a resounding success.”
Key to the move was the hiring, this October, of Charlie McEwen, the former chief operating officer of The British & Irish Lions, in the new role of chief executive, rugby and special projects at CSM.
McEwen spent nine years with the Lions overseeing the day-to-day management of the business, including strategy, operations, brand, commercial, digital and communications.
SportBusiness will publish an exclusive interview with CSM on the 2021 Lions Tour project next week.