Times are hard in the current economic climate in Ireland as sport sponsorship contracts with Guinness and Etihad expire this year.
The most recent new football deal was with Eircom, who earlier this year took over as headline sponsor in the professional game paying an estimated £1.1 million per season.
Guinness are the longest-running commercial sports partners but a potential difficulty facing the ongoing relationship is the increasing focus on alcohol sponsorships of sport. To that extent Guinness’s more subdued role has helped reduce the heat in respect of its sponsorship although there is resentment within Croke Park that similar associations with other sports, such as the Heineken Cup and Guinness’s own sponsorship of the autumn rugby internationals don’t appear to attract the same level of scriutiny.
It will become irrelevant if there are legislative moves to restrict or even abolish the role of alcohol sponsorship in sport in Ireland.
Football sponsors include Ulster Bank, Super Valu and Eircom whereas Centra, Guinness and Etihad have traditionally been hurling partners.
The merry-go-round of sponsors isn’t helping people's perception with a recent survey showing that 22 per cent of respondents believed Bank of Ireland was still a GAA sponsor despite having relinquished its role as title sponsor of the football championship in 2007!
The search for sponsors is becoming tougher and effective marketing is essential to provide a return on investment in a diminishing market.