“If you sign a deal with a company with close ties to the governments of Russia, China, Qatar or Saudi Arabia - do you fully understand what you are helping them with?”

18 March 2019

Schalke 04 Gazprom
Photo: Getty Images Gazprom, the gas-company partly owned by the Russian state, is the main-sponsor at Schalke 04, one of the biggest clubs in Germany.

It’s a whole new ball game for most executives when foreign countries and political organisations become close partners.

No serious brand damage has happened yet, but a number of clubs have seen the associated risks.

Henrik Lønne loenne@offthepitch.com

“It’s a completely new decision-making and management environment.”

Simon Chadwick, professor of Sports Enterprise at Salford University, does not mince his words when explaining how working with government entities differs from regular commercial partnerships:

“CMOs (chief marketing officers) are used to gathering data on brand recall, brand recognition, or fans’ awareness of the company’s name or products, but in these types of deal, that might be totally irrelevant. You need to learn to think about the world in a completely different way.”

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