Irish sport was dealt a blow yesterday evening as confirmation came through that An Post was to withdraw from its long term support of cycling.
An Post will conclude its suite of cycling sponsorships including the An Post Rás, the An Post Chain Reaction Cycling Team and An Post Rás na mBan as the terms of each sponsorship expires this year.
The company stepped back from sponsorship of the Sport Ireland Cycle Series at the end of 2016.
Cycling has had many challenges at the top level during the course of An Post’s involvement but the brand always stuck with it insisting on a clean sport policy. British cycling faced the exit of a similar high level and deeply involved partner when Sky exited it’s long term partnership but they were replaced by HSBC who had just exited the British and Irish Lions.
“An Post has been the leading supporter of cycling in Ireland for a decade, providing long-term, committed sponsorship to Irish Cycling at all levels,” said Aileen Mooney, Corporate Communications Manager for An Post.
“We are very proud of what has been achieved by all involved and also by our staff through their involvement and support.”
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The decision has been take on business grounds for the organisation as it faces up to the challenges of a digital economy and making the announcement now does mean that there will be time to show the benefits of the sponsorship in a real time environment.
“The conclusion of these sponsorships comes at a time when An Post is facing significant financial challenges,” added Mooney.
“As we set about implementing a new strategy for An Post, we must focus our resources on reshaping and restructuring our business, and on new product development.”
“The timing of this formal announcement is to give the teams and the event organisers the opportunity to secure new sponsors whilst still having the backing of An Post until the end of this year’s activities.”
“An Post is very much looking forward to our involvement in this year’s events and would like to wish all those involved in Irish Cycling every continued success into the future.”
An Post first became involved in supporting Irish Cycling when the company took on title sponsorship of the Sean Kelly Development Team in 2008 and An Post’s sponsorship activities coincided with a period of significant growth for the sport.
“An Post have been a fantastic sponsor of Irish Cycling over the last 10 years having supported the sport at all levels,” said Sean Kelly, who has been involved with the An Post Chain Reaction cycling team since 2008.
“We have greatly enjoyed our partnership with them which has allowed us to provide a platform for the on-going development of professional riders including talented Irish cyclists such as Sam Bennett who has gone on to compete at World Tour level and twice at the Tour de France.”
“We built a great partnership with An Post since they came on board in 2011 with the event growing year on year,” added An Post Rás organiser Tony Campbell.
“They have worked tirelessly with us to develop the An Post Rás. This week we are welcoming 39 top teams from around the world to compete in the eight-day stage race bringing huge excitement and a significant economic boost to towns and villages along the route.”
Cycling Ireland, Sport Ireland and a significant number of potential future partners for the sport are members of the Sport for Business Community. Find out more about being part of building stronger links between sport and business here.