It looks as though Ulster Bank will be back as sponsors in Ireland of the Six Nations Championship. A Story carried in yesterday’s Times newspaper has been doing the rounds in recent weeks and while there has been no official confirmation or denial of the report that RBS, sources Sport for Business has spoken to confirm that detailed discussions have been taking place.
RBS brought their 15-year partnership to an end at the conclusion of this year’s Championship, having given notice to quit as far back as June 2016.
Speaking at that time Dave Wheldon, Chief Marketing Officer with RBS said “RBS has sponsored the Six Nations since 2003 and it has been a long and successful partnership which has brought tangible benefits to our business.”
“However, as a bank, we are now looking at realigning our sponsorship strategy to our customer facing brands, so we feel the time is right to look for alternative sponsorship assets that better fit with our brand strategy.”
“As we focus back on our home markets in the UK and Ireland, we have decided not to renew the sponsorship beyond 2017. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to play our part in supporting the development of the Six Nations Championship into the global spectacle it is today and in supporting the strong contribution it makes to the economies in which it is rooted.”
Despite the withdrawal at that level, Ulster Bank remained on board with the IRFU as Community Partner and sponsor of the All Ireland League.
As a sport Rugby has traditionally achieved far greater reach in Ireland than in almost any other nation bar New Zealand and a return to the highest level would certainly be welcomed by Ulster Bank customers here.
The Times reports that the Six Nations will take a hit of up to €4 million per annum having failed in a bid to secure another international brand.
This was certainly not down to a lack of effort but there was little appeal at that price to a number of existing brands in the Rugby world and the uncertainty over Brexit has had an impact too.
We understand that discussions had reached an advanced stage with a major international airline but if agreements on airline access to the UK revert back to what they were in the distant past before the EU that would have material impact on a sector that has changed and grown so much in the meantime.
Partnerships are complex affairs and there are a lot of moving parts that need to fall into place for them to work to absolute best effect.
The Six Nations shot for the moon looking to increase the level of sponsorship income from the tournament. If they have fallen short, at least they have recognised that in time to reopen discussions with a friend that has stood by them for the long term.
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