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Old 11-23-2009, 11:53 AM
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Default WPS considers selling league naming-rights

In an effort to boost its sponsorship revenue, Women’s Professional Soccer is selling a league presenting sponsorship and may be open to selling a league title sponsorship instead, Commissioner Tonya Antonucci said.

The sales proposition could make WPS a corporate-branded league. Already, soccer leagues such as England’s Barclays Premier League and Australia’s Hyundai A-League have corporate sponsors, and other sports like tennis’ Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and racing’s Izod IndyCar Series have corporate names.

The WPS had lower-than-expected sponsorship revenue in its inaugural year and selling a presenting sponsorship should allow it to boost its sponsorship revenue in 2010, said soccer marketer John Guppy, founder of Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing.

“It could be an easier sell for them,” Guppy said. “Companies are increasingly looking for big play, so a bigger opportunity like this can be more appealing than a traditional sponsorship.”

WPS hopes to find a presenting sponsor willing to pay a low-seven-figure fee for the right to be included in the clause “WPS presented by … .” It also would be open to selling title sponsorship rights should a company prefer that, Antonucci said.

The sponsorship package, which is being sold by Soccer United Marketing, is expected to include intellectual property rights, player appearances, activation rights and considerable media value, as the brand would be mentioned each time the league is mentioned.

“We’re in a growth stage, but that’s not a deterrent to getting out there with the assets we have,” Antonucci said. “We want to be creative in trying to bring in advertising dollars.”

The sales effort will be led by Michael Gandler, SUM vice president of business development, and Courtney Carter, manager of business development. The league hopes to find a presenting partner by the start of the 2009 season but hasn’t set a firm timetable.

“We’re in no rush,” Antonucci said. “It’s about finding the right partner.”

Antonucci said that WPS and SUM haven’t identified a list of categories to target for the sponsorship. However, consumer packaged goods would be a logical fit for the women’s league.

WPS averaged 4,684 fans per game during its inaugural season, and it averaged a 0.1 cable rating and 32,000 households over 21 live telecasts on Fox Soccer Channel. WPS’s current roster of partners includes Puma (official apparel, ball and equipment partner), Hint Water (official water), AdvoCare (official isotonic beverage), U.S. Coast Guard (official armed service) and MedImmune (presenting sponsor of the 2009 WPS Championship).
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