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European sponsorship market worth over €30bn, says ESA report

The Women's World Cup was among high-profile 2019 events (Photo by Mikoaj Barbanell/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The overall value of the European sponsorship market by volume rose by 1.9 per cent over the course of 2019, according to the latest Sponsorship Market Overview from the European Sponsorship Association and Nielsen Sports.

Sponsorship volume broke the €30bn ($32.4bn) barrier in 2019, with brands spending €30.7bn in total on rights fees. The numbers take into account all sponsorship across the continent, sporting and otherwise, although sport partnerships made up over two-thirds of the total.

The top three markets in 2019 were unchanged from 2018. Germany remains the highest-spending sponsorship market, at a total of €6.26bn, up 4 per cent over 2018. The UK, in second place, was worth €4.56bn, a rise of 6 per cent, while Italy in third place saw the sharpest increase, with spending in the market going up by 15 per cent, reaching €1.94bn. 

The overall rate of growth in 2019 was down significantly on 2018, when it increased by 8.7-per-cent year-on-year. That boost was driven by the fact that 2018 saw both a Fifa World Cup in Russia and the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. 

Europe’s biggest properties in 2019 were the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France, the ICC Cricket World Cup in England, while the Rugby World Cup took place in Japan, but still attracted strong spending from brands on the European teams involved.

The result marks a seventh consecutive year of sponsorship growth in the European market, but it is now highly likely that 2020 will mark a decline, with both the Olympic Games and the Uefa European Championship postponed until 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and with wider suspensions of sporting competition affecting sponsorship values.

ESA Chairman, Andy Westlake, said: “This report indicates that the sponsorship industry continues to thrive, rising almost 2% even without the major sporting events that propelled growth in previous years.

“While the unfolding coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly take a toll in the short- to mid-term, particularly as a host of major events are postponed and rescheduled, I believe that our innovative and resilient industry can emerge from the current emergency stronger than before. 2021 is going to be a huge year for our industry – sport will provide a big catalyst for the world’s bounce back to normality.”