South Africa Sponsorship Of Tottenham Hotspur Generates Debate
2 February 2023
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The mooted R1billion sleeve sponsorship deal that SA Tourism wants to sign with English Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur was a “potentially brilliant” business deal, sports marketing and tourism research experts believe.

SA Tourism says the three year deal would attract millions of soccer loving fans from around the world to South Africa, boosting global arrival numbers for the country.

Tourism SA says the fans would also spend global currency in the country, giving businesses a major boost.

Professor Michael Goldman, a sports marketing expert the from San Francisco University in the US, said the deal was “potentially brilliant” in that SA Tourism would spend less than 30% of its R1.3bn budget.

“Potentially it is a brilliant business deal … I think R300 million a year, think about it as a media spend, instead of putting that money on CNN or Sky or Al Jazeera, SA Tourism will potentially be spending less than 30% (of the) R1.3bn that the Treasury gives them to do this kind of thing around the world to attract tourists, spending 30% less of that budget…”, Goldman said in an interview with Talk Radio 702.

He said Spurs had 20 million fans in the UK alone was an appealing market.

“One percent of 20 million fans, that is 200 000 potential visitors to South Africa. That is half of the number of UK tourists currently coming to South Africa.”

He said Tourism SA could recover the money in a short space of time, considering that each tourist spent an average of R10 000.

Another expert in tourism research, Professor Peet van der Merwe from the North West University, believes that the money could have been better spent on other initiatives.

“We know that big-event tourism brings in a lot of revenue – it creates jobs and has a development function. So, to paint it in broad strokes, I think such an approach is a good idea.

“But, as far as I can discern from the Tottenham saga and the contract that is intended to be signed, the focus will largely be on the branding of South Africa at games, on their equipment and on their kit,“ Van der Merwe said in a statement.

“This is all well and good, but, I don’t really see any games being played here. I see there are training camps, but ideally we would like to see Tottenham playing games in South Africa which we can market for South Africans as well as in our neighbour states, who I am convinced would like to watch such games…“

On Thursday, Tourism SA’s acting CEO Themba Khumalo hit back at critics in a fiery press conference, saying there was no deal yet with Tottenham Hotspur, but also saying they were forging ahead with the deal.

He said they approached Spurs as it was the only top team in the Premier League that did not have a tourism partner.

Khumalo said that should the deal go through, it would reach 661 million people who watch the game live.

IOL earlier reported that Khumalo said there was a conversation currently under way, but the story was leaked to derail their own considerations.

“A question was floated around: Did the board go to the UK? Yes, the board went to the UK. I was part of the trip. We went; you have to do due diligence on any single thing that you do.

“Certain board members went, we had a look, and we were persuaded that this was a good opportunity. We came back and it went through the board process rigour,” he said.

He said the matter was before Tourism SA on January 27 and additional time was needed to deliberate further on the deal.

“The full board then met at 8pm on Tuesday. This story was already out before the board even met to have the conversation. I am saying this, to say the version of the story that you have been told is not true. It was leaked out of context.

“This whole thing could have been avoided if we just had a conversation about why we are doing this. The intent of the leak was not to aid economic recovery of the country. It was something else that has got nothing to do with the mandate that is in the Tourism Act…”

He said the board met and made a conditional approval, citing that it believes the deal was commercially “making sense”, but it needed to be taken to all stakeholders, including Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

He said before Sisulu was consulted, the story made headlines.