A sponsorship deal was recently struck between the Scottish Hockey Union ("SHU")
and Shepherd+ Wedderburn ("S+W"), covering both the men's Scottish
Cup and the women's National League Cup tournaments. For SHU, this deal represented
an opportunity to develop the game at grass-roots level in Scotland, allowing
further investment in equipment and facilities. S+W were delighted to secure
a national sports sponsorship and in particular to be associated with a sport
which is known to attract a dedicated professional audience.

Kicking off

As is often the case with sponsorship deals, the key points of principle
were initially discussed and agreed between the respective Marketing
Directors of the rights holder (SHU) and the sponsor (S+W). SHU own the rights
to the tournament, and have control of the spectator area. Funding is,
of course, a big issue for sporting bodies and SHU were looking to capitalise
on the value of these rights. S+W wanted to be headline/title sponsors
secure a package of sponsorship rights. Once agreement on the key commercial
points had been reached the task then was to incorporate what had been
agreed into a formal written contract, which had to be fleshed out to
cover all
commercial and legal issues. It was acknowledged by both parties that
during this process other issues would be introduced into negotiations as discussions

Contract Hit List

  • The
    Sponsorship package
  • Fringe benefits
  • Duration of contract
  • Cancellation
  • Payment

The Sponsorship Package

There are a few basic rights which sponsors invariably
look to secure. Beyond these sponsors should try to be as creative as possible
to ensure that
the deal gives their company/brand the ideal type and level of exposure.
holders should seek to ensure, if possible, that they grant "packages" of
rights to each sponsor – ensuring each package is narrowly defined
can be of benefit in maximising sponsorship revenues if there is more than
one sponsor.

What is included in each package will depend on the value of the sponsorship
and the particular commercial circumstances surrounding each deal, however
the following are examples of the types of rights that may be secured by a

  • S+W were granted the exclusive right to be appointed title sponsor
    of the Tournament and it was agreed that the official title of the Tournament
    would be the "Shepherd+ Wedderburn National Hockey Cups". Obtaining "exclusive" rights
    is important for sponsors to ensure that no other parties are given equivalent
    standing. Assurances should be sought from the rights holder that no other
    sponsors will be granted an equivalent (or better!) package of rights. Rights
    holders should be looking to package their rights and to sell different tiers
    of rights to ensure revenue can be maximised.
  • All other sponsorship rights
    were granted on an exclusive basis in relation to the Brand Category ("legal
    firms in Scotland"). Here, SHU were
    eager to ensure that, whilst S+W were given exclusive rights in their own
    market sector, SHU were left with the ability to further exploit their
    rights through
    the appointment of other sponsors in different market sectors.
  • SHU remain
    entitled to secure secondary sponsors/perimeter advertisers (subject
    to the prior approval of S+W) so long as they are not competitors
    of S+W. This
    leaves the necessary flexibility for SHU to maximise funding whilst providing
    S+W with all important control over brand association.
  • The Tournament
    title and S+W's logo are to be featured prominently on all publicity
    materials, news releases, SHU stationery and DVDs. From the
    Sponsor's perspective,
    it can be useful to provide for all uses of its logos and branding
    to require to be pre-approved by the Sponsor.
  • The title and logo are also
    to be displayed on the Cup Final issue of SHU's e-newsletter, all correspondence
    and the SHU website – a link will
    also be set up to S+W's website. "Hyperlinks" and other on-line methods
    of exploiting brand associations are becoming increasingly common
    in sponsorship arrangements. Consideration should also be given to on-line
    and the
    right to have sponsor created content on the rights holder's website
    (and perhaps vice-versa).
  • The title and logo will feature on all match balls,
    officials' shirts, corner flags and medals.
  • S+W have the right to display
    advertising boards at the National Hockey Academy at Peffermill.
  • 2 new
    trophies have been commissioned by S+W to be awarded to the winning teams
    and were specially designed by Scottish sculptor John McPhail.
  • S+W and
    SHU did not discuss merchandising or TV rights issues in the context
    of their sponsorship arrangement but these are issues
    which should be addressed
    at the contract negotiation stage if relevant to your deal.
    It may be appropriate to secure sector exclusivity in any TV advertising slots
    before during or
    after a televised event, or simply to ensure that your branding
    is within the key
    camera shots to be used by the TV company covering the event.
    In relation to merchandising, if the sponsor is to be permitted to use the
    rights holder's
    name and logo then a formal trade mark licence arrangement
    should be discussed, and issues relating to product type and quality, product
    liability and approvals
    need to be discussed and agreed prior to production.

Fringe Benefits

Again, creativity is the name of the game. The possibilities
are endless and sponsors should explore all angles to ensure that brand exposure
Fringe benefits can really be the icing on the cake in a deal. A few examples
of such benefits are given below.

  • S+W are to be represented in the presentation party on Cup Final Day.
  • S+W
    have been allocated a number of tickets for the Cup Finals and 2 tables at
    the Cup Finals Lunch – perfect for client entertainment!
  • S+W are entitled
    to appoint an official photographer and to use photographs in any form
    of media.

For sponsors who manufacture products, sales can
be maximised by ensuring that their product is featured in the promotional
material relating to
the event – as
the official drink of the event for example.


As far as the duration of the contract is concerned, the majority
of rights holders will be keen to obtain a degree of security of funding
by negotiating
as lengthy a term as possible. Sponsors, on the other hand, tend to be
looking for flexibility. It may be unwise to pledge funding for say a
10 year period
during which there is a risk that the event might dry up. On the flip
side, if the event really takes off a sponsor should ideally be in a position
to continue with their involvement. It can be useful to set down a specific
term with a right of renewal on expiry of that term.

  • The SHU contract is for the 2004/05 hockey season.
  • S+W were granted a right
    of first refusal to negotiate a renewal of the deal.


  • It is important to consider the circumstances in which the parties
    are to be permitted to terminate the agreement and those events which shall
    termination. Unfortunately, things do not always run as smoothly as one
    may have hoped and it makes sense to address this possibility at the outset.
  • Events
    beyond the parties' control require careful consideration in the current
    climate (political and environmental) – what happens if the pitch
    is flooded?
  • Parties ought also to consider the consequences of termination – what
    is to be done with surplus merchandise etc?


Sponsorship fees are often split before/after the event. For longer
term agreements, annual increases should be considered.

  • S+W paid
    a lump sum up front and are to invest further sums in the exploitation
    of the rights.

The Ideal

The perfect sponsorship agreement should reflect a "win-win" situation.
Both parties will get more out of a co-operative relationship.

Some famous
sponsorship matches made in heaven:

  • Robinsons / Wimbledon
  • Famous Grouse / SRU
  • Shepherd+ Wedderburn / SHU!

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