Exclusive: Ryder Cup to become 'biggest one-off weekend in sport' as commercial deals skyrocket

Tom Morgan
The Telegraph
The Ryder Cup has become a huge event in the sporting calendar - AFP
The Ryder Cup has become a huge event in the sporting calendar - AFP

The Ryder Cup is becoming "the biggest one-off weekend in sport", branding bosses have claimed as rivals America and Europe join forces to offer new global commercial deals worth in excess of £200 million.

Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA are breaking with tradition by combining efforts to lure new worldwide sponsors, a move which industry experts predict will sent profits surging for golf's most popular showpiece. Record numbers are due to follow the action at Le Golf National, near Paris, from Friday, with 14million Britons following this year's match, according to market research.

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"The Ryder Cup poses one of the greatest rights opportunities in sports today", said Mark Thompson, managing director of global sponsorship management company, SponServe. "It has the potential to become the biggest one-off weekend in the sporting calendar."

In previous years, sponsors have been put off big-money global deals because they have been forced to negotiate with marketing executives on both sides of the Atlantic. However, this year parcel delivery giant UPS has become the tournament's second ever "global partner".

Nathan Homer, the commercial director for Ryder Cup Europe, said: "Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA of America are working together to maximise the global commercial opportunities of The Ryder Cup by harmonising the commercial programmes on both sides of the Atlantic... Several more partner and supplier announcements are expected in the coming months as we expand the global programme."

There are currently 34 partners, suppliers and licensees of the Ryder Cup. The average price per sponsor for the European event is around £2 million, whilst in the US, it’s nearer £4 million.

Ryder Cup teams have been attempting to develop the global brand for four years, with Aberdeen Standard Investments understood to have the first and only company who managed to navigate the old system to become a worldwide partner in 2014.

Next weekend will be first time the event been held in France, but organisers say ticket sales have been buoyant, helped by the box office appeal of Tiger Woods' return to the contest after six years.

<span>Tiger Woods' return has boosted interest in the Ryder Cup</span> <span>Credit: Getty images </span>
Tiger Woods' return has boosted interest in the Ryder Cup Credit: Getty images

Carsten Thode, chief strategy officer at sports marketing firm Synergy, has helped land a series of sponsorship deals with Europe and America. He said: "It's become a powerhouse of an event. From an audience appeal perspective, it is a unique event that transcends golf. People who are not necessarily golf fans are interested. However, the set up - where two different rights holders take the lead -  is not conducive to optimising the commercial potential that exists. Brands know this is an absolutely first class sporting event that has enormous commercial potential - it's one-off, incomparable, and I would anticipate they would have a significant opportunity to raise commercial revenues.

"With F1, Bernie Ecclestone acted as a union rep and worked together as a common good. We saw the same with the Premier League. We see the benefits, the commercial potential."

The Ryder Cup's appeal is still soaring, according to sports data firm Nielsen Sports. "Fan sizes for the upcoming tournament compared to the same period ahead of the last event to be hosted in Europe in 2014, shows fan the number of fans has leaped by more than 6.7 million people," the company said.

Thompson, of SponServe, said in future rights should be "sold in cycles... much like we see with Fifa and Uefa partnerships, providing sponsors with a clear set of renewable assets with strong global visibility and brand recall for a minimum period of four years". "The Ryder Cup's full commercial potential remains untapped," he added.

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