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Sponsorship, the magic of co-operation and community.


Recently, I had the great pleasure of re-watching the brilliant Christopher Nolan film The Prestige. The plot is a tightly woven three act structure that mimics the moves of a magic trick itself.

The first act of any trick, The Pledge, concerns the presentation of the subject to the audience as something ordinary and relatively non-descript. Giving the audience the chance to inspect the object in its essential parts, unadorned and seemingly base.

Subsequent to this we move on to The Turn. This is where the magician, or director in this case, takes that ordinary thing and makes it do something extraordinary. Altering the perspective of the viewer and allowing them, with a sense of wonder, to create connections in their mind of their own creation. Laying foundations for the viewer to feel a sense of amazement, engagement and investment.

Then comes the hardest part, The Prestige. Here the magician capitalizes on the involvement of The Pledge and the investment of The Turn to make the magic that you see before you seem inevitable, make it normal. Through the execution of these three stages the magician has moved the audience for a position of skepticism and aloofness to one of total investment and engagement. This is also the role of the Sponsorship Officer. 

Every club throughout the continent has subtly different circumstances but the intellectual moves for every officer out there remains the same. In The Pledge, Present your club in a matter-of-fact way, i.e. as a sports team made up of a combination of expats and natives with a combined purpose, that of playing a sport, socializing and training. Give the facts, the figures and all the rest. Depending upon your subject this can come in different forms. If it is an older Irish businessman, I suggest over a few pints in a pub. In the case of a local business, in the form of a multilingual and easily understood document. For a board of a large business something more formal with a Pitch-deck and attendant facts, figures and documents in spreadsheet form. Essentially what you want to communicate is the quantitive essence of the club. It is a sports team, like many others, with essential costs, activities etc.      

Now it is time for The Turn. Once the potential sponsor feels like they are in possession of the facts of the club, and in all honesty is likely disinterested, it is time to take that concept and surprise it. For me the best and most obvious way to do this is through the engagement of the club in charitable projects, the higher profile the better. My own club in Valencia is aligned with Hombres de la Calle, a homelessness support organization, but every club will have different circumstances. The fundamental purpose of the action is the same. To impress upon the mind of the potential sponsor that this is more than merely a sports team looking for another handout but rather it is a club, a community with a common purpose, one to which that organization is already, albeit unknowingly, aligned. It is, as Barcelona CF proudly proclaim, Mas Que un Club, more than a club. 

While it is ostensibly the most difficult, as it entails the actual procurement of direct monetary support from your potential sponsor, if you have managed to execute the prior steps effectively The Prestige should be an inevitability. They are in possession of the knowledge of what the club needs to survive financially, they see the self-evident value to the community fostered by the club and are invested in its continued progress. It should be inevitable that you will be able to rely on their financial support to the betterment of the club. Now is the moment of true magic. Capitalize on this moment to ensure the club’s financial viability.  

A word of warning here. Do not kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Clubs are meant to outlast any of their teams, committees or members. If executed properly you should be setting up the basis for long term support and partnership for the club to ensure that it exists in perpetuity. The ultimate reflection of a job well done of a sponsorship relationship is its normality and seeming inevitability. Think of The Aviva stadium, The RSA chase or Supervalu’s work in the community. Long-term, associative and inevitable. Once you touch on all three in your thinking you are on the right track. 

If you have any thoughts or questions about your own club, plans or ideas don’t hesitate to contact me. You can find my details below. I look forward to hearing about your own three act structures. 


Diarmuid O Donovan
Sponsorship Officer, GGE

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