Why Super League Can Not Attract Big Name Sponsors

It is a question I see posed time and time again. Why can’t Super League attract big name, big spending, national sponsors?

It is a question that is pretty easy to answer, and one I’ve decided to put in a single article that can be linked to when ever someone asks this question.

Put yourself in the marketing department of a big spending sponsor in the UK. Your job is to spend your budget in a manner that gets the maximum amount of national exposure for your companies products or services. One idea that has been tossed around in your marketing department is that the company sponsors a sporting competition in an effort to raise general brand awareness.

While it may seem like marketing departments are there to throw money around and get their companies logo on anything possible, the truth is that marketing campaigns are very well researched, very well run, and aim for certain demographics across many different groups that can be split between age, economic circumstance, geographical reach, even gender and race are factored into a big marketing campaigns.

With all that in mind we now turn our attention to what Super League has to offer as a sporting competition looking for a major sponsor.

Super League has 14 clubs. One of those clubs is based in southern France, so they don’t really have any impact on a potential sponsor looking to put their product out across the UK. Southern France isn’t a market they have any interest in. While the Catalan Dragons may bring in other financial benefits to Super League, for a UK company looking for exposure in the UK, they have zero interest in what the Catalan Dragons have to offer them.

So you have 13 clubs based in the UK. All but one of those clubs are based in northern England. The London Broncos give Super League a presence in the biggest financial and media market in the UK, but unfortunately through terrible management, they are a non factor right now.

The remaining 12 clubs are mostly based in towns. Wakefield, Castelford, Widnes, Salford, St Helens, Wigan, Huddersfield, Warrington, Hull…at best you could call some of these large towns. They are certainly not cities.

Leeds and Bradford are the only two clubs outside of London that you could say are based in cities. While Leeds has been performing well in recent years, Bradford’s survival is anyone’s guess.

So you have a sporting competition that is based mainly in the north of England. Of the three UK based clubs based in cities, two of them are no guarantee to survive even over the short term. Most clubs are based in small towns. That is what is Super League is trying to sell.

A large scale national marking campaign wouldn’t even consider sponsoring Super League. Not even for a second! Super League simply does not offer a national company the exposure it desires in big markets across the entire nation.

Even if you look past Super League’s issues regarding its geographical spread of clubs, the fact is that only a few games every week are broadcast. There are games played in Super League every weekend that receive no television coverage. What’s worse is that the television coverage Super League does receive is locked into Sky Sports….and Pay Television does not reach the same audience as Free To Air TV does.

If you have a company that is trying to sell a product to towns in northern England, Super League would be a pretty good competition to sponsor. National sponsors though….they think on far larger scales in terms of exposure than Super League can provide them.

Super League has been without a major sponsor for a long time now. The last sponsor Super League had received the naming rights for free. That took any value the Super League naming rights held and threw it away.

If you owned a company looking to sponsor Super League, and you knew the company that last sponsor Super League had spent exactly £0.00 to capture the title sponsorship, where do you think you start your negotiations at?

No nationally recognized company out there is going to do Super League a favour. No company cares about the health of Rugby League in the UK or the financial oblivion Super League clubs face because of a lack of funding. All they care about is themselves. They have their own business to run after all.

At the end of the day, Super League just does not offer a sponsor good bang for their buck. It is that simple.

Liked it? Take a second to support League Freak on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

12 thoughts on “Why Super League Can Not Attract Big Name Sponsors

  1. Just a minor point you may think but not to the people of Salford,You make reference to Salford as a town when it is most definitely a CITY a fact worth remembering

  2. Maybe the problem is that League Freak doesn’t know anything about English sport. The cities of England already have a sport i.e. FOOTBALL !

    You cannot hold a gun to a man’s head and tell him to watch Rugby League. Expecting people in English cities to watch RL is like expecting people in Germany to watch cricket.

    This is a question of history and culture. English cities ( like Italian cities or Germany cities ) prefer football. It is that simple. You think that RL is important because you’re Australian. Outside Aussie, RL is no bigger than a peanut.

    Sponsors prefer football because the fans prefer football. Compare the NRL TV deal to the TV deal for the Barclay’s Premier League in football.

    Compare and contrast the two TV deals – Aussie RL v, English Football.

    Frank Spinetti

  3. By the way, League Freak is someone who thinks that a State of Origin at Wembley would sell out “within minutes”.

    This is like saying that the moon is made out of goat’s cheese.

    A State of Origin would NOT sell out Wembley because PEOPLE IN LONDON DO NOT FOLLOW THE SPORT OF RUGBY LEAGUE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    At least Steve Mascord understands this ( a little bit ): he called it “antipodean hubris” to think that SoO would sell out Wembley. Read his comments, Freak.

    Frank Spinetti

  4. Look, RL is a disenfranchised, defined by its detractors game in an oval ball illiterate country. However in terms of being in the right place the EPL has the majority of its coverage on SKY not terrestrial so RL is side by side with the big boy on the block. Unfortunately without even 0.5% of soccers SKY cash but about 1/5 of SKY’s soccer audience. SKY have never had any aspirations to grow the sport only use it to offset the cost of soccer fans subscriptions.
    Outside of London the North has the most populous centres in England so in terms of people the geographical argument against RL is an assumption made by anyone looking for excuses not to look at RL.
    Soccer has the same sponsors as RL, Carling and Tetley are the same company after all.
    The real issue is tradition and acceptance not the value of anything else. RL is not accepted. There is no deep intellectual analysis of marketing pay back RL is an unaccepted game and there are accepted games that will take sponsors cash..

    1. Nah you’re right, everything is awesome and it’s all sky’s fault.

      You ever think that maybe Sky don’t pay much for the Super League rights because they too have to sell on advertising during Super League matches and can not much for that air time because the content is aimed at small towns?

      1. It’s not about “content aimed at small towns”.

        The very fact that you use the word “content” shows that you do not understand.

        People are free to watch RL if they want. People in London have decided not to watch it.

        How many people in Madrid watch RL ?
        How many people in Milan watch RL ?
        How many people in Munich watch RL ?
        How many people in Chicago watch RL ?
        How many people in London watch RL ?

        It’s a democracy, innit ? People have made up their minds !!!!!

        Frank Spinetti

      2. Did I say it was all Skys fault? But I’ll go with the flow. Sky have held the rights to RL and done what with them? Announce RL as the main club rugby in the UK? Certainly don’t advertise the sport on their channels or terrestrial tv, they do for soccer and union. How large do you think RU towns are, even the ones that pretend they are in London. More people watch the Super league from those Northern towns than watch the sky coverage of the Aviva premiership. That’s Skys own conclusion not mine.
        What did Sky do after securing the summer rugby switch, which was done in order to maximise Sky revenue. I’ll tell you, see a 30% drop by 2008 of payments to SL from the £1,000,000 per club in 1995. And that is after more people were tuning in, bigger Sky audiences than ever.
        Sky didn’t take RU seriously until 2003, RL was in their care for at least the 10 years previous.
        I’ll show you what happens when media partners have an idea to develop a sport. The broadcast of the Union world cup went up from 103 hours in 1987 to 8,500 hours in 2011. That’s not audience driven that is promotion to an audience, something RL in the UK has never had. One of the main reasons we struggle for sponsorship aside from the Stobart farce is that other sports are promoted and regardless of RL’s worth it is not.

  5. I’ve been to Hull, Ive been to Wakfield and I’ve been to Salford. None of them are cities. People that live there might get some ridiculous self esteem lost by saying they are cities, but they are simply towns. Nothing more.

    1. Hull, Wakefield and Salford would rank in 7th, 8th and 11th places in terms of population when compared to the 45 listed Australian cities and greater urban areas. Leeds/Bradford would rank 3rd,

  6. Some of the criticism of Super League is valid but the towns/city argument is way off beam and the general synopsis just another example of the sadly transparent Australian inferiority complex.

    There’s no doubt the country has come a long way from the deeply disturbing days of ‘White Australia’ but the insular, parochial, self indulgent rants of ‘League Freak’ remind us that there’s a way to go yet.

    For the record Kingston Upon Hull (often referred to by the shortened name of Hull) was granted City status in 1897…that’s 114 years ago! It has a population of well over 250,000 but the greater urban zone (HU postcode area) is 573,300…..enough to easily support a premiership football team and two Super League clubs.

    The City of Salford is only marginally smaller than the City of Manchester both falling within the relatively new and manufactured creation of Greater Manchester.

    The North of England generally is a densely populated area roughly equivalent to the whole of Australia.

    League Freak is a small minded Australian who purports to support the wider game but in fact is more interested in scoring points in that uniquely Australian inferior way.

    The fact is that Rugby League is a very small sport everywhere in the world except Sydney & Brisbane. Those of us from other parts of the world who love the sport are PROUD of the fact that our game can do so well in eastern Australia and shout about it from the rooftops.

    We know Rugby League in NSW & Qld is as good as sport gets.

    Funny thing is when people like Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer represent your country as RL ambassadors over here ( I have attended evenings recently in which they were guest speakers) they are the same class acts as they were on the field of play. Totally respectful of anyone who shares their love of Rugby League.

    They RESPECT Rugby League people in England and understand that we are a Rugby League family.

    Over here you switch on your TV or radio and you WON’T hear Rugby League. And there’s this class thing where if you do like Rugby then Union is for thinking people and League is for thickies.

    Yes really. Super League gets 2 or 3 times the audience of Rugby Union on Sky Sports yet gets half the money…..because they think ‘Rugger’ people have more money to spend.

    So come on League Freak…….instead of finding every opportunity to attack English Rugby League you should be joining the cause. If articulate, knowledgeable, passionate people like you can’t help us then who will?

Leave a Reply