Lagardère's long-running tie-up threatened as Eintracht go to market
By Martin Ross
Eintracht Frankfurt, of German soccer's Bundesliga, have invoked a clause in their long-running commercial rights contract with the Lagardère Sports agency and invited tenders from agencies for the rights from the 2019-20 season onwards.
Lagardère Sports has been Eintracht’s commercial agency for the last 15 years and its on-site team sells the club’s sponsorship rights and hospitality packages.
The future involvement of the agency beyond the end of next season is unclear, however, after the club announced that it is “laying the foundations for the future” by inviting bids.
Eintracht said: “In doing so, the club has made use of a clause in the existing contract with marketing partner Lagardère Sports. The advertised marketing rights encompass all of Eintracht Frankfurt's analogue and digital stadium and club rights, both domestically and internationally. Qualified interested parties can register with Eintracht Frankfurt in order to participate in the tender.”
The terms of Eintracht’s initial deal with Lagardere Sports were agreed in the early 2000s when the agency was known as Sportfive and as its negotiating hand was strengthened by financial difficulties endured by the Bundesliga side.
The agency's current agreement was due to expire in 2020.
Commenting on the decision to go to market, Axel Hellmann, the Eintracht Frankfurt board member, noted: “The challenges of marketing a Bundesliga club have changed significantly with a view to the future.
“With this tender we want to see what opportunities the market offers Eintracht Frankfurt and whether - and to what extent – we can collaborate with external partners in future to create added value and find the best solutions for the club for the challenges ahead.
“Eintracht Frankfurt extends its thanks to Lagardère Sports and its staff for the good partnership and the numerous projects that have contributed to the positive development thus far in the field of marketing. We view it as a sign of our good cooperation that our long-term partner Lagardère Sports will take part in the tender process, and are happy that they will do so.”
Hellmann last year publicly bemoaned the costs associated with the Lagardère contract.
He told Bild newspaper: “We are satisfied with the revenue from sponsorship, hospitality and ticketing, which amounts to more than €50 million [$60.4 million], or about half of our turnover. It is only the costs that we have for the marketing through Lagardère that are much too high. We will not accept that any more in the future as it impinges upon the growth opportunities for sport.”
Responding to news of Eintracht’s invitation to tender, Philipp Hasenbein, managing director at Lagardère Sports Germany, told Sponsors.de: “During the 15 years of our close co-operation the requirements and expectations of a marketing agency have changed hugely. Thanks to digital transformation, Lagardère Sports has realigned itself in recent years.
“As a clear driver of innovation in the market we are convinced that we will also offer Eintracht Frankfurt tremendous added value in the areas of digitalisation, internationalisation and innovation.”
He said that Lagardère Sports is looking forward to “working out added value together with Eintracht Frankfurt in the coming weeks and adapting our partnership to the challenges of the future.”
Eintracht’s Commerzbank Arena is currently operated by the Stadion Frankfurt Management joint venture that involves Lagardère and HSG, the property services provider.