The European Sponsorship Association has revealed the second wave of results from the ESA Sponsorship Sentiment Tracker, an industry survey gauging the health and confidence of leading sponsorship organisations across Europe and giving insights into the response of major sponsors.

The survey is similar in tone and response to the Onside Sport for Business Sports Monitor which we undertook earlier this month and which is shown below for comparison purposes.

More than 200 thought leaders and senior sponsorship professionals from across Europe took part in the ESA survey, repeated regularly to provide an up-to-date picture of the health of the sponsorship industry and the impact of COVID-19.

The results demonstrate cautious optimism across Europe, with average confidence rising to 5.76 out of 10 this month, up from 5.48 in the first survey, conducted in April.

Confidence was strongest in continental Europe, rising from 5.33 to 5.72 (+0.39 points).

By contrast, the UK’s confidence rating was flat, rising only from 5.53 to 5.56 out of 10.


Brands continue to be the most positive about sponsorship, with an average confidence score of 6.2. Confidence also increased marginally for agencies, while a big increase was registered by rights holders, with confidence jumping from 4.9 in the first wave of results to 5.6 in wave two.

While businesses are still forecasting heavy losses due to the pandemic, the gradual return of sports and entertainment has seen some positivity in financial
impact – 23% of respondents estimate an increase in revenue this year, up from just 6% in wave one.

The recovery of organisations based in Europe has outpaced those in the United Kingdom, with Europe’s financial forecast improving more than 9% in Europe over the last month, compared with just 2% in the UK.

Similarly, 16% of UK-based companies have applied for more Government support; double that of Europe- based companies.

Some 20% of businesses have pivoted their business models to continue operating, while 35% have reported no change since the crisis started.

Rights holders are most likely to have felt the effects of COVID-19, with 32% now outsourcing less and the same amount furloughing more staff.

“It’s great to see that some optimism is returning to the industry, albeit gradually,” said ESA Chair Andy Westlake.

“Having been hit so hard over the last three months, it’s clear that the return of live sport and entertainment is having a positive impact on sentiment, especially within the rights holder community. With continental Europe seemingly coping better with the impact of the virus, there’s also a predictable difference between responses when compared with the UK.”

“As the return of major events continues to encourage sponsors and brands, we expect to see confidence increasingly grow. With 2021 offering so much opportunity, given the huge number of major events due to take place, this gradual improvement in outlook should be seen as a positive sign that the industry continues to recover.”