UK looking for new sponsors after Olympics

Wed Nov 7, 2012 8:16am EST
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By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - After a 2012 London Olympics when UK Athletics commanded a rare place at the centre of British sporting life, it must now fill a gap left by the exit of long-term sponsor Aviva.

Sophia Warner, new commercial director of UK Athletics, is aiming to recruit a core group of up to six sponsors to replace the insurer, the sport's main backer for the past 13 years.

According to media reports the deal with the insurer was worth around eight million pounds ($12.8 million) per year, a modest sum compared to the kinds of money companies plough into higher profile sports like soccer and Formula One.

Warner, who suffers from cerebral palsy and competed at this year's Paralympics, says that athletics has been slower to sell itself than other sports.

"Athletics is very much in its early stages of sponsorship and development," she explained in a telephone interview.

"It hasn't been exploited, it hasn't been over-utilized, it's still a relatively poor sport with much potential."

Athletes like Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah have won lucrative endorsements on the back of their Olympic gold medals but the sport often struggles for attention outside of major events.

Warner said the new sponsorships were a great opportunity for companies to get involved as Britain seeks to train a new group of top athletes for when London hosts the world championships in 2017.   Continued...

Spectator wears glasses with the shape of the Olympic logo attending the men's 94Kg group B weightlifting competition at the ExCel venue at the London 2012 Olympic Games August 4, 2012. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler