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Following the lifting of economic sanctions in Iran early this year, the nation’s sports industry, particularly football, is primed to attract foreign sponsorship investment, according to certain leading sports business industry experts.

With Iran boasting some of Asia’s biggest football teams both in terms of success and fan base — e.g. the Tehran derby between Esteghal and Persepolis attracting crowds of 100,000 and average domestic television audience of 20 million — major international corporations will certainly plunge into the terrain as they build brand awareness and engage the almost 80m Iranian population and through this platform.

The report also highlighted Iran’s sports industry could be worth as much as US$500m over the medium-term and up to US$1b over the longer-term when sponsorship deals, ticket and merchandise sales and event management come into the picture.

Speaking to Gulf News, Alun James, managing director of Four Consulting, added, “It has suddenly become a very attractive country for all sorts of companies and those companies will be looking at how do they position themselves and get their brand known.”

Despite its success on the pitch, the business facet of Iranian football has not kept up with the professionalism of elite leagues around the world. In Iran, it is common for sponsorship deals to be on a match-by-match basis as opposed to annual or multi-year contracts seen in Europe, the United States and even China.

Most, if not all, of the teams are also state-owned and clubs can see several executive management changes in a season. Production quality of the matches is another concern as few matches are shown in high definition, and international broadcasters have to make major infrastructural investment before plunging into the market.

Matt House, founder and chief executive of British sports marketing company SportsQuake, cautioned, “It’s very old school. It’s very much in its infancy — the whole sponsorship industry. Everybody needs to be satisfied that this current situation in Iran is going to be constant and not something that is going to flip-flop out. People will be wary to invest immediately.”

So, while Iranian sport — football in particular — could be a sponsorship goldmine in the upcoming years, much work has to be done to raise professionalism behind the scenes to fully reap the massive potential of this industry.

To read the original article from our affiliate partner, Asia Sponsorship News, click here.

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