The Irish sports sponsorship industry had a blazing start to the year with record deal volumes recorded but a new ONSIDE survey of sports industry executives released this week has uncovered a mix of challenges to maintaining this momentum in the second half of 2022.

The fifth wave of the ONSIDE Sports Industry Monitor of Sport for Business industry members shows a five per cent decline in the levels of optimism around the sponsorship industry and a sharp 33 per cent drop in sentiment toward the wider economy in which the sports business sector operates.

On a practical level, the ability to recruit staff is a key concern for 57 per cent of executives while 43 per cent are having difficulty getting the working from home and office mix right.

At the same time, 47 per cent of executives are facing budget constraints and 35 per cent are having difficulties engaging in new sponsorship opportunity discussions.

“The start of 2022 was hugely positive for sport and sponsorship with deals up 58% year-on-year and it is very difficult to sustain that rate of growth,” explained ONSIDE Chief Executive, John Trainor.

“As well as the practical factors of adjusting to the changes that have resulted from the pandemic, we are also starting to see the implications of high demand for premium properties.”

“Our research found 4 in 10 industry stakeholders agreeing that increased demand over supply of attractive sports sponsorships is a growing issue for the industry. Over a third agree that the price of sponsorship is growing at levels that are a watch-out for the market.”

Rugby, Olympics and GAA are seen as the three strongest sports property categories in terms of their attractiveness to sponsors, narrowly ahead of soccer.

The Paralympics and golf have enjoyed the most significant positive perception change over the past six months. Golf and Rowing stood out in the data as the most attractive Olympic sports for sponsors in Ireland, with 7 in 10 surveyed seeing rowing as an attractive platform to sponsor and 84 per cent in the case of golf.

Women’s sport continues to be seen as the stand-out opportunity for new investment with two-thirds of the industry strongly agreeing that their organisation would be interested in supporting and advancing women’s sport in the next 1-2 years.

“Data from this latest ONSIDE Sports Industry Monitor shows that the momentum around women’s sport continues to grow,” said Sport for Business CEO, Rob Hartnett.

“It is also interesting to see the sports in which Ireland enjoyed Olympic success in Tokyo such as rowing, hockey and boxing maintaining high levels of commercial interest as attention turns to Paris 2024.”

Meanwhile, growth in Web3, the metaverse, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain all featured prominently in industry predictions at the start of 2022, but adoption levels in the Irish sports industry remain low.

While 23 per cent of organisations are developing plans to introduce NFTs into their sports strategies in the next 12 months, only nine per cent plan to incorporate fan tokens or the metaverse and eight per cent some form of cryptocurrency or blockchain initiative.

Each day this week we will have video content looking at the highlights of the research with our friends at ONSIDE.

The first piece of content looking at the area of confidence can be seen below.



Sport for Business Partners