Setback in search for new sponsor of Dublin GAA
The Dubs’ hunt for a new headline commercial partner and shirt sponsor is set to go deep into overtime after an agreement that had been reached with a new investor was dropped by the big name brand.
The Pitch understands that the deal was in the final stages of negotiation and was ’99 percent there’, when the firm’s US parent pulled the plug, due to external global matters, three weeks ago.
The unnamed potential ‘Primary Partner’ emerged from a group of highly interested brands with whom Dublin GAA’s commercial division had opened negotiations, last spring.
The setback, while disappointing for all concerned, is viewed as temporary with discussions already underway with new prospective sponsors.
However, the race to have a sponsorship in place in time for the lucrative Christmas market and ahead of the new inter-county season in January will be the key motivation for negotiators in the coming weeks.
The men’s and women’s All-Ireland football championship winners had hoped to have a new deal in place by the time AIG’s 10-year association with Dublin GAA comes to an end next month, and to allow production and delivery time for new jerseys to be achieved.
Last January the US insurance firm announced it was bringing to a close one of the most successful commercial partnerships in Irish sport, during a period in which Dublin won 12 senior All-Irelands in men’s and ladies' football.
Fees, costs, or terms are not believed to have been a contributing factor in the collapse of the draft agreement, rather a strategic U-turn by the company in relation to a global approach on sponsorship issued from the United States.
The AIG deal with Dublin stood at €1m per year, and any new contract is expected to rise in value to up to €1.1m, a figure which The Pitch understands had been agreed before the current round of talks with a new sponsor ended.
Apart from the extraordinary visibility and success enjoyed by AIG, the brand had full sponsorship across all of Dublin GAA’s teams and codes.
Dublin went to the market in March of this year and had been speaking to a number of potential sponsors, whittling that down to two by June, before opting for the now-departed preferred choice.
That strategy seems like a sensible choice, despite the current setback, by not leading on a number of interested brands, believing they were in the running, instead settling on one.
Such a tactic has now paved the way for Dublin to reopen negotiations with a number of those brands, who were involved in early discussions, to determine the next best fit for Dublin GAA.
While the organisation isn’t commenting on the current impasse or fresh negotiation process, the key concern is having a product for market ahead of the seasonal shopping season.
That issue will have more of an impact on kit suppliers O’Neills, who clearly sell more Dublin jerseys than for any other team, and particularly on the back of significant success in 2023 for senior Dublin teams.
The Pitch forecasts that approximately 15,000 jerseys would likely sell in the run-in to Christmas, achieving more than almost €1m in income for O’Neills and Dublin GAA.
The new partner, as well as having shirt sponsorship, will enjoy headline commercial ownership of all Dublin GAA teams, as well as naming rights for the county’s Parnell Park Performance Centre.
AIG marked the end of its 10-year association with Dublin GAA at the start of the championship season with a high-profile ad campaign – Celebrating Support.
The Dublin GAA sponsorship is regarded as the most valuable team sports asset in this country, surpassed only by Vodafone’s multi-million euro deal with the IRFU, and specifically the men’s Irish rugby team.
The current setback bears no resemblance to the challenges faced by the FAI - almost four years searching for a lead sponsor.
That sponsorship, for a brand which is enduring little success on the field, and ongoing controversy off it, sits at approximately €1.6m, a price still seen as too rich and too risky for investors.
The added bonus for new suitors with a Dublin sponsorship is investment in a winning brand, after both the men’s and ladies sides beat Kerry in their respective All-Ireland finals this year.
The men’s game was the highest watched sporting occasion in three years – with an average television audience of almost 1 million - until last month’s RWC showdown between Ireland and South Africa, seen by 1.2m viewers.