Irish Sports Sponsorship Industry Hits All-Time High

Sports Sponsorship in Ireland has seen a huge increase in investment over the last few years, with the newest insights suggesting that the market could reach as high as €200 million this year! But why has sponsorship in Ireland become such a huge market…?


  • In July there was already a 12% rise in Irish sponsorship deals
  • 6 out of 10 deals made in Ireland are sports-related
  • The Sponsorship market was worth €179 million in 2017
  • 53 different brands were seen as ‘active’ in sport alone in recent months


The largest marketing communications company, Core, has launched an index that will help benchmark sponsorship effectiveness called the National Sponsorship Index (NSI).

This is the first index of its kind to help businesses see the impact of sponsorship on their metrics. They are rating the sponsorships by the commercial impact and by asking ‘the fans’. Core measures the potency, effectiveness, and vitality and creates a list of the Top 50 sponsorships to bring transparency to the Irish sponsorship market. Of this Top 50 list, 19 of them were sports sponsorships.

Who’s sponsoring Who?

In June, Vodafone sponsored the IRFU and became their Official Mobile Telecommunications provider. The 4-year contract is said to use “both new and existing technology to create events, activations, and content that will benefit all rugby fans and Vodafone customers in Ireland. Vodafone’s investment will allow fans to experience world-class network services on match days.”

Heineken also announced in June that it would be sponsoring the European Rugby Championship as the ‘headline sponsor’ and changing the name to ‘Heineken® Champions Cup’. Hans Erik Tuijt, Global Sponsorship Director, HEINEKEN, said: “It is an exciting time for Heineken® to return as the main partner to the European Rugby Champions Cup. The expansion of the tournament to emerging rugby territories (Bilbao 2018) and new cities in traditional strongholds of European rugby (Newcastle 2019) provides Heineken® with the opportunity to create engaging fan experiences and brings our association with rugby to new audiences throughout Europe. Heineken® is proud to have had a close association with rugby for over 20 years and we look forward to working alongside EPCR to provide a platform to continue to develop the competition across Europe and beyond.”

Supervalu’s renewed their contract with GAA due to its success in previous years. They used this platform as a way to create a new CSR scheme called #BehindTheBall. This showed their support for local communities and for future football stars. Every customer of Supervalu received a Behind the Ball token which could then be allocated to a GAA club of their choice.

‘3’ extended their sponsorship with the FAI by signing a new €8.9 million contract that lasts until 2020. From an article in the independent, it is said that “Three will continue to have exclusive branding rights to include training and playing gear and kit, ticket branding, high visibility pitch-side branding at the Aviva Stadium as well as ‘Money Can’t Buy’ experiences, which will be exclusive for Three customers.”

Lidl extended their sponsorship with The Ladies Gaelic Football AssociationIrish by 3 years. This represents one of the largest sponsor investments in female sports in Europe! Adding an extra €3 million to their sponsorship. Speaking on behalf of Lidl Ireland, Managing Director John Paul Scally commented: “At Lidl, we are extremely proud to continue to be the biggest supporter of women’s sport in the country. When we partnered with the LGFA in 2016, we made a promise to elevate Ladies Gaelic Football to a new level and we feel we have delivered on that promise. Right across the country, our store teams have been blown away from the positive feedback from local schools and clubs we have invested in and recognition for the support we have given to the game. The reinvestment in our partnership with the LGFA will see us invest a total of €5.5 million over a five year period. As a brand, we identify with the association’s ambition and drive and we look forward to supporting and raising further awareness of ladies Gaelic football across the country.”

Will this continue?

It’s too early to say that sports sponsorship in Ireland will continue on this trajectory, however, with the sports seasoning continuing through to next year, as well as rumors of sponsorships for next year, it looks as if it will continue to rise. John Trainor, CEO and Founder of Onside, said: “if the trend continues, it’s possible that this year’s double-digit growth will continue into 2019, fuelled by major boosts like a Rugby World Cup year as well potential fee inflation in a market where supply isn’t always matching demand,”. It’ll be definitely an area to watch for sponsorship, as well as Core’s Top 50 list.

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