‘Sponsorship in Sport: Fit & Function’

The Business of Sport – Seminar Series

Room G01 – Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1 7HX

Wednesday 25th March 2009 at 6pm
(For directions click here)

‘Sponsorship in Sport:  Fit & Function’

Given by: 

Guy Masterman, Head of Division, Sport Sciences, University of Northumbria
Director of the UK Centre for Sport and Event Research


In this presentation Guy Masterman focuses on the importance of sponsorship as an integrated communications tool in sports business and discusses a successful approach for both sponsors and rights owners drawing on material from his book Sponsorship for a return on investment; and from research conducted at the 2008 Tennis Masters Cup, Shanghai.

There are two critical elements for successful sponsorship construction.  Sponsorship ‘fit’ is the mutual appropriateness of entering into a sponsorship but is more than simply a matching of target audiences.  It concerns how the set of rights need to be designed in order to meet both rights owners and sponsors objectives so that the resulting relationship is credibly perceived by target audiences.  This can be more successfully achieved when the partnership is integrated and when a brand is seen to contribute to the success of the sponsored entity and vice-versa. One way of constructing this is to ensure that the sponsor’s products and services provide a ‘function’ within the sponsorship.  This concept is discussed and research data used to demonstrate how brands can be important functional components within sponsorships.  Findings from research conducted at the 2008 Tennis Masters Cup, Shanghai, are used to explore the extent to which the involvement of sponsors Mercedes and Rolex in particular, as transport and timing providers, is seen as a recognisable provision for the event to function.

Research shows that the greater the congruence between sponsor and rights’ owner the more positive the perception of the sponsorship (Meenaghan & Shipley, 1999; Milne & McDonald, 1999).  Therefore as sponsorship becomes increasingly prevalent, particularly for events, and at the same time is increasingly viewed with some scepticism by sponsors, it is important for sponsorship measurement to focus on evaluation of the sponsorship as a whole rather than the usual brand and image awareness.  This presentation argues that it is the function that a sponsor performs for the event that makes for this better ‘fit’ and the required congruence.


Guy Masterman joined the University of Northumbria as Head of Sport Sciences in 2005 coming from New York University where he was a professor of Sports Management for two years. He previously worked in the sports and events industries for over 25 years. Early in his career he was an international racquetball player and was involved in the development of that sport in the UK and internationally. His clients have included Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nabisco, Capital Radio Group, Chelsea FC, Leeds United FC, Team Scotland, WCT Inc. and international governing bodies such as the ATP Tour, the International Yacht Racing Union and the International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation. He has worked extensively for charity groups such as Muscular Dystrophy, Scope and Sparks and with sports stars Sebastian Coe, Jody Scheckter, Steve Backley and Lennox Lewis. His event work extends across all sectors of the industry and includes Euro ’96, World Games, Coca-Cola Music Festival, Pepsi Extravaganza, Nabisco Masters Doubles and the promotion of concerts for Ray Charles, Santana, BB King, James Brown and Tony Bennett. Guy is a visiting Professor at Shanghai University of Sport and at Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing and his research focuses on strategic event planning and legacies and sports marketing and sponsorship. He sits on the editorial board of the International Journal of Events Research.


  • Masterman, G. (2009, in press). Strategic sports event management: An Olympic Edition. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Masterman, G. (2006). Sponsorship: For a return on investmentOxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Masterman, G & Wood, E. (2005). Innovative marketing communications: Strategies for the events industry. Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Masterman, G. (2004). Strategic sports event management: An international approach. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Masterman, G. (2004). A strategic approach for the use of sponsorship in the events industry, in Festival and Events Management: an international arts and cultural perspective. (Eds.) Yeoman, I., Robertson, M., Ali-Knight, J., Drummond, S & McMahon-Beattie, U. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Masterman, G. (2003). The Event Planning Process: Strategies for successful legacies. The legacy of the Olympic Games 1984-2000. (Eds.) Moragas, M., de Kennett, C. & Puig, N. Lausanne: Documents of the Museum, IOC .
  • Meenaghan, A. &  Shipley, D. (1999). Media effect in commercial sponsorship. European Journal of Marketing.  Vol. 33, No 3, pages 328-348.  Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
  • Milne, G. & McDonald, M. (1999).  Sport Marketing: Managing the exchange process.  London, Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street
London, WC1E 7HX

Tel: 020-7631 6763 or Email:

View all Events