HomeNewsSponsorship & MarketingFootballEurope

ESA survey signals ‘cautious optimism’ in sponsorship sector as sport returns

View of the fan wall on the screen during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 23, 2020 (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

A survey by the European Sponsorship Association (ESA) has revealed a mood of ‘cautious optimism’ among stakeholders in sponsorship as sport and entertainment returns from the hiatus forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The findings are based on the second wave of the ‘The ESA Sponsorship Sentiment Tracker’, which surveyed more than 200 thought leaders and senior sponsorship professionals from across Europe.

According to the survey, average confidence rose to 5.76 out of 10 this month, up from 5.48 in the first survey, conducted in April.

Confidence was strongest in continental Europe, rising from 5.33 to 5.72 (+0.39 points). By contrast, the UK’s confidence rating was flat, rising only from 5.53 to 5.56 out of 10.

Andy Westlake, chairman of ESA, said that some optimism is “gradually” returning to the industry.

He noted: “Having been hit so hard over the last three months, it’s clear that the return of live sport and entertainment is having a positive impact on sentiment, especially within the rights holder community.

“With continental Europe seemingly coping better with the impact of the virus, there’s also a predictable difference between responses when compared with the UK.”

Westlake concluded: “As the return of major events continues to encourage sponsors and brands, we expect to see confidence increasingly grow. With 2021 offering so much opportunity, given the huge number of major events due to take place, this gradual improvement in outlook should be seen as a positive sign that the industry continues to recover.”

Other findings from the tracker included indications that brands continue to be the more positive about sponsorship than rights-holders or agencies, with an average confidence score of 6.2.

Confidence increased marginally for agencies, while a marked increase was registered by rights-holders, with confidence jumping from 4.9 in the first wave of results to 5.6 in wave two.

While businesses are still forecasting heavy losses due to the pandemic, the gradual return of sports and entertainment has seen some positivity in financial impact – 23 per cent of respondents estimate an increase in revenue this year, up from just six per cent in wave one.

The recovery of organisations based in Europe has outpaced those in the UK, with Europe’s financial forecast improving more than nine per cent in Europe over the last month, compared with just two per cent in the UK. Similarly, 16 per cent of UK-based companies have applied for more government support; double that of Europe-based companies.