SEAT sponsorship deal a further show of faith in Euroleague
By Simon Ward
SEAT, the Spanish car manufacturer, has been unveiled as a new major sponsor of Euroleague Basketball, the organiser of the top European clubs competition, in a three-year deal.
Under the agreement, the company will serve as the official global car partner of the top-tier Turkish Airlines Euroleague and the second-tier Eurocup.
SEAT will have a significant presence in the broadcast coverage of the Euroleague Game of the Week and at prominent events, including the Euroleague Final Four and the Eurocup Finals. Meanwhile, SEAT Turkey becomes an official partner in its home market, and will have rights to conduct league-related promotions on a pan-European level.
It is the first time that Euroleague Basketball has signed up a pan-European car partner although Citroen is in its second year as a local sponsor in Spain, and, in the past, there have been short-term deals for the Final Four with Audi, BMW and Volkswagen amongst others.
SEAT will be familiar to fans of mainstream European sport having been the presenting sponsor of soccer’s Europa League from 2009-10 to 2011-12.
The length of the new deal reflects confidence in the future of the club-controlled Euroleague, which is in doubt because of efforts by FIBA, the international basketball federation, to launch its own elite European clubs competition from next season, intended to be of a higher quality and more lucrative that the existing tournament.
Euroleague Basketball said the appointment of a global car partner followed a meeting in June of the Business Working Group, comprising Europe’s top clubs, which recommended ways of creating additional revenue sources via new categories.
In addition to targeting new global partners, the competition organisers are seeking regional sponsors, as exemplified by a recent deal with Sportingbet covering the Greek market only.
Roser Queralto, Euroleague Basketball’s chief of business development, said: “We could not be happier about this agreement. SEAT is the latest major industry leader to choose to link its name to our competitions. SEAT has continued to expand over the years to more and more markets and to introduce newer and dynamic models and we are convinced that both Euroleague Basketball and SEAT will see our products and exposure grow hand in hand over the coming years."
The global partners, of which there are now nine, sit below title sponsor Turkish Airlines and premium partners Adidas, the German sportswear giant, and Dogus Group, the Turkey-based industrial conglomerate, which signed a three-year deal in September.
Euroleague Basketball has continued to sign up sponsors and broadcasters to multi-year deals despite some uncertainty over whether it will continue in its present format in light of FIBA’s plans, which were presented to the Union of European Leagues of Basketball last week, ahead of planned further talks with leading clubs.
FIBA has already launched a new second-tier competition, the FIBA Europe Cup, for the 2015-16 season, up against the Eurocup, and says that its tournaments will comply with a new international calendar being introduced in 2017, which will entail some national team matches in windows during the club season.
In July, the 11 clubs with Euroleague A licences issued a statement demanding that they be dealt with collectively and maintain ownership and control of any new set-up.
FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann subsequently told Sportcal that it was not realistic for the clubs to expect complete authority over the new competitions given the proposed level of investment, but added that the federation’s priority was a better quality product and that the financial rewards would compensate for any loss of control.
However, Euroleague Basketball has maintained that its clubs are committed to the current structure, which dates back to a breakaway in 2000, and was recognised by FIBA in a settlement in 2004, which both sides have now accused the other of breaking.
Jordi Bertomeu, the president and chief executive of Euroleague Basketball, sees no weakening in the resolve of the Euroleague clubs, saying on a visit to Israel: “We cannot deny the rumour that FIBA has been very active in the last months sending messages around that they want to take over the competition. I think that everybody knows that this comes from our discrepancy regarding the calendar when they approved introducing windows during the clubs’ competition periods. So probably they believe that by taking over the competition, they will solve the calendar issue.
“The only thing I can say is that the clubs were very clear and straightforward in July; they sent a clear message that they have been working very hard for 15 years to build the Euroleague and now is no point to give up and go back to what was the system 15 or 20 years ago. This is where we are. I am optimistic that with FIBA there is still room to find solutions regarding calendars and all these things. I think in the next months we will see if there is real room for this agreement.”