Brewers’ sponsorship helps drive economy – football chief

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The head of Europe’s professional football leagues has warned that moves to keep brewers out of sports sponsorship would be “a step in the wrong direction”.

Sport is an economic driver in Europe and sponsorship an important source of revenue, Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, the European Professional Football Leagues’ CEO, said at The Brewers of Europe’s annual gala in Brussels on Thursday (22 November). “If the Eurozone crisis is to be resolved and vital sectors, such as sport and brewing, are to remain competitive and economically viable, then we need to be able to operate in a sustainable business environment,” he said.

The gala event, which also saw The Brewers of Europe appoint a new president, heard that Europe’s brewers spend EUR1bn (US$1.3bn) each year on sports sponsorship. About two-thirds go to community-based events compared to about 12% spent on major events, the organisation said.

Earlier this year, Ireland said that it is considering a ban on alcohol brands sponsoring sport, a move that Diageo CEO Paul Walsh last month branded “ridiculous”.

Brigid Simmonds, the British Beer & Pub Association’s chief executive, said sponsorship was vital to sport’s grassroots. “Beer sponsorships provide a lifeline for community events including sports activities, many of which would simply not happen without the support of local brewers and pubs,” she said.

This year saw a number of high-profile beer and sport partnerships, including the European Football Championships, sponsored by Carlsberg, and the London Olympics, with Heineken a lead sponsor.