Ever wondered how much money it takes to sponsor a professional women’s racing team?
As Matrix Fitness Racing Academy (aka On The Drops) embark on their annual sponsorship round, team manager Stefan Wyman and current sponsor Nick Hussey, founder of cycle clothing brand Vulpine, explain what is required, and what sponsors can see in return.
“I’ve never seen women’s racing in a better place,” says Stefan Wyman, who established the Matrix Fitness Racing Academy in 2010. Stef is in a unique place to judge, he is after all married to Helen Wyman, World ranked No.2 female Cyclo Cross racer and European Cyclo Cross Champion.
Many years back he gave up a lucrative career and sold up, traveling with Helen worldwide, coaching her and enabling her to reach ever-greater heights in world class cycling. For many of those years, right up until now, he has also run a women’s team.
Nick Hussey, founder and MD of British cycling clothing success story, Vulpine, backs Stef’s management skills, “Stef is obsessed by doing the best to develop women’s racing cycling, he is selfless, outspoken and most importantly a “doer”. If he needs something done, he does it, usually without help from the powers that be.
“He has had a hand in the development of the careers of world and current Olympic champions. I like him a lot. It was one of many reasons I got involved with his team for 2013.”
“Stef is about action and passion,” continues Hussey. “Cycling as a whole is booming. Everyone wants to be involved. For potential sponsor, women’s cycle racing offers immense value on many level. That, coupled with a love of all bike racing, plus Stef’s drive and track record meant I jumped into being a minor sponsor before Vulpine was even a year old. Now I want to extend and increase our involvement.”
Matrix Fitness Racing Academy are the young upstarts of the elite women’s racing scene, hitting way above their weight in terms of results and publicity. They are constantly seen in front of ITV’s cameras for the televised Johnson Health Tech GP series as part of the Tour Series, held in front of packed crowds in city centres across the UK. They fight alongside and often in front of the women’s cycling behemoth, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team, with Olympic gold medallists (and Matrix riders of 2012!) Dani King and Jo Rowsell.
But as Wyman spoke to Hussey about tying up sponsors for 2014, Hussey described how he considered this process to be a dark art, and wondered why.
“Nobody actually knows how much it costs to sponsor a team, and therefore perhaps this is preventing development of the sport. More would enter if the finances were transparent. The value then becomes self-evident.” admitted Hussey.
Stef agreed and backed it up, “Money means progress. It means mentoring. It certainly enables getting elite athletes out of their ‘day’ jobs, and turning them into far better full time athletes, who have time to rest and of course train.
“It means equipment, race fees, transport, nutrition, mechanical support. It means a great deal.”
Stef’s overarching desire is to see women’s racing as big as men’s. And it’s getting there, fast. So Hussey suggested, why not open the doors on a closed world and show what a sponsor gets for their money? Get it out there.
“Women’s racing offers immense value and superb media exposure in a huge growth area. It’s also damned good fun. Ever ridden in a team car screaming round hairpins at speed, as you follow a breakaway? Sponsors do! How many sponsors get to see their company as the name of the team itself?” says Hussey.
So here’s how it breaks down for Stef. There are no hard and fast rules here:
£250,000 is the total budget to establish a high-level professional team
- You can take on up to 2 named partners, whose companies actually become the name of the team, unprecedented marketing in sport.
- Creates a 12 rider team, that can field its best teams for specific events, whether it’s the IG London Nocturne, or the Tour of Britain.
- The sponsor(s) get all the trimmings. Signed jerseys, team cars scrawled with their logo, kit in their companies colours, the works.
- Professional teams also have access to the world’s highest level races, including the Giro Rosa, Tour of Flanders and Fleche Wallonne. It doesn’t quite allow for a huge Death Star style team bus though – sorry!
£100,000 on it’s own is enough to create a world leading non-professional team, but it could provide Stef with enough to pay a minimum salary to riders (the first non-professional team in the world to do so)
- Creates an 8 rider team, not dissimilar to current Matrix Fitness Racing Acadamy, but much improved, particularly in terms of race preparation, media communication and corporate opportunities.
- Races would include mid-level professional races at home and abroad including the Tour of Britain 2014.
- Lashings of value for sponsors, but not quite all the bells and whistles big time super-team of the £250,000 package.
- Co-title Sponsorship of non-professional team that’ll be part of the huge televised Tour of Britain and the consequent benefits.
- VIP opportunities and all the trimmings of the £100,000, just with shared title with another partner.
- Non-professional registrations allow the team to split it’s naming rights more than 2 ways. The team could even gain an exclusive partnership of the team at the televised Johnson Health Tech GP series, including the production of exclusive videos with the team, specific casual wear, and VIP events on race days.
- Corporate days with the team including rides with the team from your company HQ.
- Full access to the team launch and use of the team at your trade shows or events.
- All this for £25,000, that’s the minor marketing spend for many companies.
- Provision of a rider Ambassador.
- Corporate days with the team at leading events. Your logo on the team jersey and vehicles.
- Full Rider Ambassador package.
- Logo placements and targeted team and rider return.
“These numbers are exceptional value, for their return.” Nick Hussey: “I didn’t sponsor this team for a direct business benefit, simply because I don’t make racing clothing. My motivation was simply that I get to see my logo on a top team jersey, which is exciting in
itself, and feel good about supporting some seriously talented athletes. It certainly does us no harm being on the telly and in race photography so often though!”
“Compared to men’s pro racing, these figures are tiny. Women’s racing is attracting far more attention than the pound signs would have us expect. This is the gold rush era, where marketeers can get exceptional value from a relatively small budget, compared to perhaps any other sport popular in the UK.” – Nick Hussey.
Who will see the opportunities first for 2014? Will team Wiggle Honda Pro cycling be given lots of teams to worry about? Who will benefit from this value before everyone spots it? Stef can’t wait to see how the team shapes up next year.
Stef can be contacted directly, if you wish to enquire about sponsorship opportunities, on: firstname.lastname@example.org