IT HAS PROVED to be a particularly worthwhile investment being a sponsor of English football club Leicester City, who have taken just two years since being promoted to the Premier League to be crowned champions, as the deals made with Thai brands have tur
King Power Group chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha announced the acquisition of Leicester City FC in August 2010.
One of Vichai’s key ambitions has been to develop Leicester City’s fan base internationally and particularly in Asia, while boosting Thailand’s global reputation and capabilities through the management of the club.
Through training with the club’s soon-to-be-implemented local education and coaching programme, he also hopes to put Thai footballers on the world map.
Sugree Sithivanich, deputy governor for marketing communications at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the agency had begun sponsoring Leicester City four years ago, when the team were in the second-tier Championship.
The club has, however, since moved up rapidly, clinching the Premier League crown earlier this week.
“The TAT decided to sponsor this team because we were confident that they would help raise Thailand’s tourism awareness among their fans in Europe. Moreover, Leicester is a big city, from which the TAT should be able to claim more potential tourists,” he said.
The authority has spent millions of baht on sponsoring the team since the inception of the deal, with the rate paid remaining the same throughout the period.
Even now, despite the rapid growth in the club’s popularity during its fairy-tale success season, there are still no negotiations being held on a new sponsorship rate, he added.
Sugree said the TAT was continuing to gain high marketing value from its sponsorship, because the team allowed it to organise events outside the King Power Stadium, as well facilitating its marquee Thai tourism campaign, “Amazing Thailand”, inside the stadium.
“Each year, Thailand is promoted about 20 times during the team’s home matches,” he said.
The deputy governor also said the TAT had for years been pushing sports as a key tool to drive tourism and help build tourism awareness in both overseas and domestic markets.
The agency spends about Bt30 million annually on supporting a number of major as well as smaller events.
The TAT is planning to separate its sports marketing budget from other marketing for the first time, and expects to implement this “issue-based” approach from next year onwards.
Last year, Thailand welcomed 946,919 visitors from the United Kingdom, some 4.3 per cent higher than the 907,877 received in 2014.
Singha Beer, meanwhile, started sponsoring Leicester City in 2012, when they were in the Championship and two years before their promotion to the Premier League.
Singha last October extended the sponsorship deal with the club for a further three years at a cost of ฃ4.6 million (around Bt236 million). Under the deal, Singha will be an official club partner and sponsor of the Spion Kop Stand, and is the official club beer.
Singha now has partnerships with four Premier League teams – Leicester City, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Singha executive director Bhurit Bhirombhakdi said the deal with Leicester City was good for both sides, as the company was supporting a team fully owned by Thais.