By Rod Gilmour
England Hockey chiefs are holding advanced talks with potential commercial partners, underlining the continued appeal of the sport’s visibility after a successful last decade for sponsors.
Investec ended its long association with hockey last month, but in a major boost for the sport it is understood the national governing body is exploring “three or four different conversations” with suitors, with one at an advanced stage. England Hockey hopes to make an announcement in the coming weeks as it also looks for cross gender sponsorship.
“Hockey is a really interesting proposition for people, there’s no doubt,” Nick Pink, England Hockey’s chief executive, told The Hockey Paper. “There is a really positive window with the return to regular team sports and we’re at the heart at it.
“For a commercial partner that is quite attractive and particularly the gender balance. There is a strong platform.”
With the looming return of league hockey, the EuroHockey Championships, Olympics, Commonwealth Games and cycle leading to Paris 2024 packed into the next three years, EH says that sponsorship is an “attractive proposition”.
Pink added: “I’m confident as I can be and I’m hopeful for news in the coming weeks for various sponsors on board.”
In an upcoming THP interview with GB Hockey’s former commercial director Jonathan Cockroft before he left the sport, he said that the women’s shirt was one of the “hottest properties” in women’s sport.
Pink concurred and added: “We don’t want to undervalue it but we have to hold true what the value is and the associaion of the shirt.”
But with the sport without a men’s sponsor since Now:Pensions and the short-lived Toshiba deal, England Hockey has placed the men’s and women’s leagues as part of its talks.
“We want to position hockey as a sport rather than men and women,” said Pink. “We have been looking across the sport and whether that happens or not will be determined as the negotiations continue.”
Any announcement is unlikely before the start of the Premier Division campaigns, which will both begin without a sponsor.
News that hockey is engaging with companies is, however, a positive step following the end of Investec’s deal.
It follows the announcement that Vitality, sponsor of the 2018 hockey World Cup, is backing six football clubs this season, covering both men’s and women’s teams, adding to recent reports that CVC Capital Partners, a former private equity backer of F1, is mooting a bid for a stake in English football’s Women’s Super League.
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