Soccer-Euro 2020 format whets appetite of major sponsors

LONDON Fri Dec 7, 2012 4:20pm GMT

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LONDON Dec 7 (Reuters) - European soccer sponsors Adidas and Carlsberg have applauded UEFA's decision to spread Euro 2020 across the continent and the format is likely to appeal to other major international brands.

The change from having one or two host nations risked reducing the buzz that distinguishes events such as World Cups and Olympics, but soccer's commercial appeal was strong enough to withstand that, industry experts said.

"We see a lot of potential in UEFA's plans for Euro 2020," Adidas said in a statement.

"For us, this will mean some additional complexity as we'll be activating our brand across several European cities, not just in one country," it added.

"On the other hand, being in many different locations means being able to showcase our brand across the continent."

The German company was a sponsor of Euro 2012 played in Ukraine and Poland this year, and has already signed up for the 2016 tournament in France.

Danish brewer Carlsberg, which has sponsored the tournament since 1988, was also positive.

"We are aware of these plans for the 2020 Championship and think they look interesting," the company said.

Broadcasters are also believed to be reasonably comfortable with the arrangement, although the host cities will not be finalised until early 2014.

The decision has won broad backing from leading figures in European soccer.

AUSTERITY BITES

Europe is battling with a financial crisis and few countries were prepared to take on the expense of hosting what will be a 24-team finals from 2016.

Turkey had said it wanted to host the tournament but Istanbul is in the running to host the 2020 Olympics and it would have been impossible to stage both events in the same country in the same year.

The competition began in 1960, when four teams played in the finals, doubled in size in 1980 and again in 1996.

Revenues have grown from 41 million euros in 1992 to an estimated 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) this year.

Media rights accounted for 62 percent of that total, with sponsorship, licensing and merchandising contributing 22 percent and the rest coming from ticket sales and corporate hospitality.

Karen Earl, chairman of the European Sponsorship Association, said the beauty of the new format for sponsors was that they would reach more of their major markets.

"Getting your message across the whole of Europe is more attractive, it's more effective," she said, noting that sponsors would probably have to have bigger budgets to launch advertising campaigns across multiple markets.

Some marketing experts warned that the change, which UEFA has said is a one-off, risked spoiling the atmosphere.

"One of the key dynamics of a World Cup or Olympics is the way that a nation comes alive," said Michael Payne, former marketing chief with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"Spreading it across Europe, you are going to be challenged to turn the whole of Europe on."

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