Not Playing the Game: Why Sport Sponsorship Relationships Break Down

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Francis Farrelly RMIT University

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This paper provides a critical assessment of the sponsorship relationship by examining relationship-related causes of termination. Based on a comprehensive investigation of major sport organizations and their sponsors spanning four years, the findings reveal partners at cross-purposes due to changing perceptions of value, opportunity, and responsibility. Related problems involving strategic versus tactical intent, commitment asymmetry, and sponsorship capability gap are identified. The research develops our understanding of the interfirm dynamics of sport sponsorship relationships including how they should be managed to avoid termination. Recommendations to prevent sponsorship termination and improve relationship outcomes, and directions for future research are provided.

Farrelly is with RMIT University, Melbourne 3001, Australia.

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