The value of Europe’s sponsorship market has increased by 4.3% over the past year as the industry continued its post-pandemic recovery, according to new research by the European Sponsorship Association (ESA).

The 2023 ESA Sponsorship Market Overview found that the value climbed from €27.85 billion ($30.37 billion) to €29.05 billion. The total volume remained more than €1 billion lower than 2018 and 2019 levels, with a record high of €30.69 billion measured in 2019.

The study covers sport and non-sport and showed that both sectors enjoyed an increase in 2022.

Sport achieved a record-high volume of €20.69 billion compared with €19.8 billion in 2021 and €20.26 billion in 2019. The recovery of the non-sport sector was more modest with a 3.85% gain from €8.05 billion to €8.36 billion.

The report concluded that the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions was the main contributor to the market growth across sport events, festivals, and concerts.

Sport also benefited from the staging of major events such as UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 and the Commonwealth Games, as well as spill-over from the Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup.  

The ESA study also noted that the rapid increase in crypto sponsorship “had both a positive and negative impact on the industry, bringing a cash injection alongside a degree of volatility due to the instability of the sector.”

It also acknowledged the negative impact on all markets caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Sponsorship Market Overview measures the top 10 markets in Europe, and it found that Spain (14%) and the United Kingdom (10%) were the fastest-growing territories this year.

The report outlined that Spain had benefited from market stabilization after the ban on betting sponsorship in 2021, with renewed commercial growth driven by domestic soccer giants Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, along with the emergence of female athletes as ambassadors.

Barcelona and Atletico both agreed lucrative new shirt sponsorship deals last year with audio streaming giant Spotify and cryptocurrency asset WhaleFin, respectively.

Spotify’s deal with Barcelona, which includes naming rights to the club’s Camp Nou stadium, is valued at €280 million, while Atletico’s agreement with WhaleFin is worth €40 million per year over five seasons.

However, Atletico will soon be in the market for a new shirt sponsor after it was recently reported that WhaleFin will terminate its sponsorship deal with the club after just one season due to the crash in the crypto market.

The continued growth of the English Premier League was a major contributor to increases in UK sponsorship. 

Andy Westlake, ESA chairman, said: “It’s remarkable how well sponsorship has bounced back after the devastating effects of the pandemic, and we all enjoyed the full resumption of in-person sporting and cultural events that contributed to the regrowth of the sector in 2022.  

“To see the volume of the 2022 industry come close to matching pre-pandemic levels underlines the importance of sponsorship to companies across Europe that need to achieve tangible connection with their customers. Sport sponsorship reached record levels last year and I am sure 2023 will see a continued regrowth in non-sport sponsorship. 

“This good news comes in spite of some very profound challenges affecting business stability, not least Russia’s continued military occupation of Ukraine. The report also highlights the positive and negative impact of crypto sponsorship on our industry. It’s more important than ever that companies use reliable data to inform their sponsorship decision-making.” 

Image: Angel Martinez/Getty Images