European sponsorship hits €30.6bn for 2019, but 2020 looks a bust with 2021 next peak

March 30 – Europe’s total sponsorship by volume rose 1.9% last year, to a record €30.69 billion, according to the latest European Sponsorship Association (ESA) and Nielsen Sports sponsorship report.

The increase came in a year in which there were no major events – a key driver of sports sponsorship spend. This explained the slower growth rate than 2018 when events like the World Cup and Winter Olympic Games saw sponsorship rise 8.7%.

The outlook for 2019 was for a bumper sponsorship year with the Tokyo Olympics and 2020 Euros planned. However, the Covid-19 lockdown and cancellation of these events will hit revenues, with football further impacting sponsorship numbers as new deals come up for renewal but with no certainty currently around season timetables – both finishing the current and restarting next.

However, 2021 should see a big bounce back for sports sponsorship.

“While the unfolding Coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly take a toll in the short to mid-term, particularly as a host of major events are postponed and rescheduled, I believe that our innovative and resilient industry can emerge from the current emergency stronger than before. 2021 is going to be a huge year for our industry – sport will provide a big catalyst for the world’s bounce back to normality,” said ESA Chairman, Andy Westlake.

Non-sport sponsorship rose at twice the rate of sporting deals in 2019, according to Westlake.

In total sport accounted for 66% of European sponsorship revenue with football accounting for the bulk (about 80%) of that figure. The Spanish and Italian markets in particular saw significant increases in sponsorship revenues.

The report, which examines 14 European markets, found 12 countries saw either steady volume or year-on-year increases, while only two countries recorded a decline.

“The continent’s top three markets by volume were unchanged from 2018, with Germany leading the way (€6.26 billion, up +4%), followed by the United Kingdom €4.56 billion (+6%) and Italy €1.94 billion (+15%),” said an ESA press release.

The full report is available to ESA members at

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