Women’s sport continues to miss out on big deals

Sponsorship of women’s elite sport in the UK amounts to just 0.5 per cent of the total market, according to a new report from The Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport.

‘Big Deal? The case for commercial investment in women’s sport’ reveals there continues to be a chronic lack of investment in women’s elite sport, with only a 0.1 per cent increase in value between the last time the market was valued and 2010-11.

The low figure contrasts with growing TV audiences and public interest – women’s sporting events, such as the Women’s World Cup this summer, are drawing increased audiences.

“It’s a depressing state of affairs,” says Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, chair of The Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport.

“Our research tells us that men and women are keen to see more women’s sport on our screens, but many sports, potential sponsors and broadcasters seem to be spectacularly missing out on the opportunity to secure some great deals.

“In just a few months the eyes of the world will be on London 2012 – the only occasion in our lifetime that will be a global showcase for women’s elite sport in this country.

“It’s disappointing that more brands and rights holders haven’t seized the opportunity to benefit themselves and women’s sport, and help create a lasting legacy.”

Despite the disappointing figures, the value of women’s deals recorded in the first half of 2011 does offer a glimmer of hope – representing 1.5 per cent of the total market so far this year.

“The time is ripe for investment in women’s sport,” says Sue Tibballs, chief executive of The Women’s Sport & Fitness Foundation, which supports and runs The Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport.

“However, the lack of investment accounts, in large part, for the absence of a female sporting culture in the UK – women’s sport is not widely promoted and its competitors are not being publicly presented as fit and healthy sporting role models to inspire women and girls to be physically active.

“Despite some growth in participation over the past five years, 80 per cent of women and girls – half the UK population – are not playing enough sport or doing enough exercise to benefit their health.

“Associated illness from physical inactivity costs the UK taxpayer billions each year and it’s forecast that the majority of women will be overweight in 20 years.

“A nation of more active women, inspired in part by our leading sportswomen, could make a massive difference in reversing this trend.”

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