Unibet said to have walked away from sponsorship dealThursday, Aug 31, 2017 09:40
The Unibet brand is part of the Kindred Group, which is an online gambling conglomerate that owns 13 brands. Alongside Unibet, the Kindred Group cashes in on the profits made on Maria Casino, Stan James, 32Red, and iGame. Unibet alone is active in 100 countries and has 9.5 million customers. The number of staff currently stands at 650 employees and revenue generated in 2015 was £354.1 million. Unibet boosted its customer base in recent years with several high profile sponsorship deals, most notably its Aston Villa. From 2006 to 2007, Unibet sponsored the Cannondale-Drapac cycling team. What happened to this sponsorship though?
French lawmakers made things difficult
During Unibet's time as a sponsor for the cycling team, the gambling giant became a pawn in the conflict between the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the Tour de France organisers ASO.
ASO refused to allow the Unibet-sponsored team ride its races. ASO drew upon French laws that restrict gambling. The Unibet-green cycling jersey's didn't comply with the regulations, argued ASO.
In recent weeks, Cannondale-Drapac indicated that they were able to offer contract extensions to some team riders. CEO Jonathan Vaughters was certain that he had found an old and new sponsor in Unibet. A few weeks later, the news broke that this deal will not go ahead, jeopardising the future of the cycling team.
Disappointed CEO speaks out
“It was a done deal — I mean, I thought we had an agreement,” commented Vaughters. “We were deciding on a uniform design and how the bus was going to look. But the agreement always had this clause that said, unless there was the unanimous consensus at the board of directors meeting, the agreement could be terminated. We always knew there was a risk, and in the end, the consensus was not unanimous," he added further.
The road ahead for Cannondale-Drapac
Given the past issues Unibet faced sponsoring a cycling team, the decision to back out from the deal comes to no big surprise. After all, the aim of sponsoring sporting teams is advertising - and to advertise, Unibet jerseys need to be on display.
During their previous stint as a sponsor, Unibet's sponsorship was far from smooth. This arguably resulted in numerous of Unibet's board of directors reconsidering the potential effectiveness of this latest sponsorship. With the Investec Derby horse racing festival, and in the sport of darts, the Unibet Masters, Unibet Champions League of Darts, Unibet World Grand Prix and the Unibet European Championships, Unibet manages to achieve better value.
Can crowd-funding save the team?
"If some company or someone wants to come forward in the next week, then they can save the only team that sends Americans to the Tour de France," Vaughters pleaded.
The cycling team is currently seeking $7 million fast. Otherwise, the team "must shut down". Besides pleading to companies, Cannondale-Drapac decided to open a crowd-funding micro site. The target is $2 million and the team has already received $132,155. "All donations up to $2 million will be matched by Fairly Group and other generous supporters. Donations will be refunded if the team does not continue in 2018," write the desperate cyclists. Good luck!