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Olympique Lyonnais reviews sponsorship goals in wake of Covid-19

(Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)

French Ligue 1 football club Olympique Lyonnais has downgraded its objective of achieving between €43m ($46.5m) and €46m in sponsorship income next season because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In its quarterly financials for the nine months to March 31, 2020, OL said the projected increase from the €31.3m per year earned from sponsorship in 2018-19 no longer applied.

The club said: “Given the current public health crisis and the lack of sufficient visibility on the reopening of its businesses, OL Group is not reiterating this objective.

“Rather, we are targeting a significant increase in this revenue category (versus 2018-19 actuals) owing to the new five-year sponsorship contract with Emirates that begins with the coming season.

“A new [stadium] naming contract beginning on August 1, 2020 is still in discussion with several partners.”

The five-year deal with Emirates is thought to be worth €20m per season and will see the airline brand replace carmaker Hyundai for the front-of-shirt rights.

The naming right contract is far less straightforward. The club currently has a deal with insurance company Groupama Auvergne Rhône-Alpes thought to be worth between €4m and €7m per season.

Francis Thomine, managing director of Groupama, told the Journal des Entreprises the company would not pay more but would like to continue the partnership. Meanwhile, the club is negotiating with other potential naming rights partners.

Overall, club revenue for the first nine months of the 2019-20 financial year reached a new record high of €265.7m, up 19 per cent on the same period last year.

However, OL expects to lose about €50m in the full financial year from the suspension of football because of Covid-19 from March 16 and the subsequent termination of the season.

With the exception of e-commerce and merchandising, the club said all of its commercial activities had been suspended since mid-March.

During the fourth quarter, the club said there will be no revenue from ticketing, media and marketing rights or events, except, in the case of media and marketing rights from “residuals” and the potential amount from the final breakdown of the league’s broadcast deal with television network Canal+ , which should be validated in the coming weeks.

OL also aims to claw back tens of million of euros in damages after the French Professional League (LFP) officially closed Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 on April 30, consigning Olympique Lyonnais to a position of seventh in Ligue 1 based on points per match, thereby excluding the club from European competition next season.

Last week, OL appealed to the Paris Administrative Court to obtain a suspension of the LFP’s decision to close the league and require the LFP to re-examine the conditions under which the competitions could be reopened in August, or if they cannot, to declare the season null and void.

According to the Minister of Sports of France, Roxana Mărăcineanu, public health conditions permitting, it might be possible to schedule matches in August 2020, theoretically with a maximum of 5,000 people present.

The club’s full-year 2019-20 results will be reported on July 21.

OL parent company OL Groupe also controls National Women’s Soccer League team Reign FC in the US, and has undertaken a rebranding campaign for that franchise.