Will the rescue of French amateur sport go through sponsorship?

In order to reduce their reliance on grants and contributions from licensees, many sports associations have recently sought to develop their resources from private partnerships. If the economic context is more favorable than it seems, the task remains no less difficult. An evolution of methods is needed to initiate a true growth cycle. decryption.

“In the past, previous directorates have worked hard to increase community participation in our budget. But government funding is becoming increasingly difficult to find. In the political space, sport is clearly not a priority. Today we want to set up a project to develop our sponsorship resources. It is a medium term job, the results will not come immediately, we are aware of that. But we want to go this way. The context is set by Marc Maloisel, young president of FC Fontenay-le-Fleury, an amateur football club from Departmental 4 in the outskirts of Versailles.

With an annual operating budget of €100,000, private partner sponsorship currently represents no more than 5% of the resources of the Yvelin club with 500 licensees. And while he shows the ambition to regain the Departmental 1 Championship in the medium term, his management is aware of the need to develop commercial revenues to achieve its sporting objectives.

“Today we want to set up a project to develop our sponsorship resources. It is a medium term job, the results will not come immediately, we are aware of that. But we want to go this way”

Marc Maloisel – President – ​​​​FC Fontenay-Le-Fleury

“We are almost starting with a clean slate as our sponsorship income has been low so far. To support our growth plan, we want to activate three key levers. The first pillar is based on the structuring of the club in order to “professionalize” its operation. For example, we have equipped ourselves with the SportEasy solution to better manage our teams. It is a foundation stone in the building. In addition, we have intensified our CSR and socio-educational activities by organizing waste collections in our municipality or by developing a living space where we organize homework counseling and school counseling sessions. Finally, we have recently invested a lot in our communication strategy for digital channels,” explains Marc Maloisel.

The FCFF recently launched its YouTube channel where it broadcasts its own web series and takes viewers behind the scenes of the club’s 2021-22 season. “This web series allows our community to better immerse themselves in the life of the club, while identifying with the players and people who work for the success of the FCFF,” said Marc Maloisel. The icing on the cake: As part of the Vrai Foot Day project coordinated by the So Foot teams, FC Fontenay-le-Fleury had the opportunity to welcome German internationals from Paris Saint-Germain Julian Draxler and Thilo Kehrer. An operation that generated a resounding buzz on social networks, garnering a lot of media attention for the FCFF. First large-scale operations to enable the creation of Fontenay-le-Fleury to attract the attention of advertisers.

Amateur sport: focus on sponsorship to consolidate the economic model?

FC Fontenay-le-Fleury is not an isolated case in French amateur sport. Many sports associations have entered into discussions and have begun to implement an action plan to increase their partnership income. A trend that started with the general decline in subsidies and which was paradoxically reinforced with the outbreak of the health crisis. “The health crisis has highlighted the economic dependence of sports associations on the contributions of their licensees. There is now a real awareness of the issues related to the diversification of sources of income and many associations are turning to sponsorship,” explains Andy Fournié, Head of Brand Partnerships at SportEasy, a team management application used by more than 10,000 clubs in Europe.

Villers Handball’s semi-professional club has seen a meteoric rise in recent seasons – the senior men’s team notably moved from N3 to N1 between 2018 and 2020 – and has sought to commercially support this sporting growth by launching its business club at the beginning of the 2018-19 season and by completely refocusing its sponsorship policy. “We used to base our business strategy mainly on emotion and affect. Through knowledge or friendship, we were able to convince business leaders to come and support us financially. But it is not possible to build a solid model according to such operation. From now on, we have put the needs of our partners at the heart of our model. We exchange very regularly with them to find out more about their ambitions, their projects, the state of their sector of activity, the objectives pursued… By multiplying the exchanges, we can offer counterparties in line with expectations” , explains Romain Gerard. ., Business Developer of the Meurthe-et-Moselle club.

“Nowadays, many business leaders want to come into business by joining the adventure of a sports club. You have to know how to surf on this trend”

Romain Gerard – Business Developer – Villers Handball

Through its business club, the formation of the suburbs of Nancy multiplies the number of events – afterworks, business breakfasts, conferences on various themes, including sports and health … – to encourage discussion between its partners. A strategy that pays off: Villiers Handball’s business network, which initially had 30 members, now unites more than 75 companies. “Thanks to our new strategy, we have succeeded in attracting business leaders who initially did not necessarily have much interest in handball. By joining us, they understood that they could benefit from a real return on investment. Nowadays, many entrepreneurs want to come into business by participating in the adventure of a sports club. You have to know how to surf on this trend”, adds Romain Gerard.

But the handball club Villers does not want to stop there. The smallest budget of Nationale 1 with an estimated budget of approximately €250,000, sponsorship currently represents approximately €100,000 in revenue per year. The club hopes to rapidly increase its partnership income so that it exceeds the symbolic 50% turnover target in a season. “Today it is essential to increase sponsorship, given the general decline in subsidies from local authorities. We can look for new budgets at companies”, analyzes Romain Gerard. The Murthe club has set itself the goal of reaching the threshold of 100 affiliated companies of its business club in the short term.