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A new direction for business and sport partnership

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Minister for Sport and Recreation

Embargoed until 1pm 31 July 2008 Media Statement

A new direction for business and sport partnerships

Sport and Recreation Minister Clayton Cosgrove has today launched an innovative business and sport initiative which goes well beyond the traditional sport sponsorship model.

The ‘Business and Sport Partnership Initiative’ was launched at today’s Business and Sport Summit in Auckland, attended by more than 80 business and sport organisation leaders. Under this new initiative, business and sport organisations will enter into formal agreements.

Mr Cosgrove said the old ways of doing things are not giving enough support to modern sports clubs and organisations, nor maximising the potential for business. “Business wants added value beyond its logo being associated with a particular sport to increase brand recognition. Sport undersells itself by not recognising all it has to offer to business.”

“This initiative will help each sector to tap into resources each has but often aren’t utilised. Sports, for instance, can offer valuable databases and customer profiles through their membership systems, help better connect businesses with their communities and help development teamwork principles within the business environment. Business can use its expertise to mentor sport organisations in governance, management and financial administration.”

Mr Cosgrove said sport organisations used to be able to rely on new members walking through the door and a solid volunteer base. But he said lifestyle changes and increasing competition from other leisure activities, both active and passive, meant a new approach was needed. “For example modern clubs may now need to undertake strategic planning and membership drives, and that’s where the expertise of the business sector comes into play in terms of marketing and gaining profile.”

The Business and Sport Partnership Initiative announced today is the result of two business and sport summits facilitated by the government in May and June this year. The government agency Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) will act as a broker, bringing business and sport together to explore relationships beyond the traditional sponsorship model. SPARC will also help alert each sector to opportunities, and assist business and sports organisations to grow their relationships or establish new ones.

“The idea of the sectors working outside the traditional sponsorship model does exist informally but there is huge unfulfilled potential for the majority of business and sport organisations to embrace these approaches, from the national level right down to grassroots sports clubs and local businesses. This Initiative aims to ensure more organisations maximise the potential of their relationships,” Mr Cosgrove said.

Five businesses and sport organisations were inducted into the Business and Sport Partnership Initiative at today’s launch today.
• DHL and Surf Life Saving NZ
• Contact Energy and Triathlon NZ
• BankLink and Rowing NZ
• TVNZ and Netball New Zealand
• Kiwi Rail and Yachting New Zealand

Mr Cosgrove said other sports and business groups have also signalled their intention to establish formal partnerships under the new initiative which can only benefit both sectors.


Business and Sport Partnership Initiative – Background Information

What is the Business and Sport Partnership Initiative?
The Business and Sport Partnership Initiative is a formal agreement between organisations within both sectors. The scheme is a catalyst to alert the wider business and sport sectors to the possibilities of new, more extensive ways of working together. The Initiative will see the Government agency SPARC act as a broker to bring business and sport together to explore mutually beneficial relationships which expand beyond the traditional sponsorship model.

What is a relationship ‘beyond the traditional sponsorship model’?
While the traditional sponsorship model of businesses writing cheques and putting their company logo on the team jersey will always have a place, this initiative is about taking that relationship to the next level. Businesses want to leverage more out of relationships, while sports need more than just cash in order to be sustainable and competitive.
The Business and Sport Partnership Initiative aims to encourage both sectors to explore new territory. For instance, businesses can share expert mentoring, financial management, marketing and HR expertise, technology, and access to business networks. Sport can offer powerful links into local communities, inspiration and insight into improving workplaces, and direct targeted contact with members and participants.

What’s wrong with a basic sponsorship relationship?
Sponsorship is an important and well established connector between business and sport. But sponsorship alone under-utilises the potential benefits to both sectors. Sport organisations need to be more efficient, cutting edge and modern in their approach to administration, governance, recruitment etc. Business can offer sport support in those areas. Conversely, businesses seek more leverage over investment in sport. Solely associating with sporting events/teams fails to capitalise on the full potential of the relationship.

Does this mean more government involvement in business and sport?
SPARC will act as a broker, but the onus is on business and sport to make it happen. The Business and Sport Partnership Initiative must be driven by the sectors. Stronger relationships where both parties benefit more, is good for business and good for sport.


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