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CEO Conference 2012

CEO Conference

CEO Conference

European Athletics President Hansjörg Wirz has called on the continent’s athletics leaders to embrace creativity and innovation in order to make the sport sustainable and self-reliant.

President Wirz was addressing the leaders from 47 Member Federations at the 8th biennial European Athletics Chief Executive Officers Conference, entitled “Stability, Independence, Growth – Optimising Member Federation Finances in Challenging Times,” in Neusiedl am See, Austria, last weekend.

President Wirz emphasised that in an age of austerity measures, which often includes cuts in government and public authority support, organisations are under more pressure than ever to become financially self-sustainable.

“This is a critical time for our sport. Even though our countries face different challenges, we have one common goal – the success and long-term sustainability of athletics in Europe. Through the CEO Conference, we offer the opportunity for Member Federations to exchange creative and innovative ideas and now it is up to each of them to go out and implement these ideas in their countries,” said President Wirz.

European Athletics Vice-President and Development Committee Chairman Jean Gracia reinforced President Wirz’s sentiments by encouraging Member Federations to create and capitalise on products and services that are of value to the general public and also the sport’s own specific stakeholders.

“Our Member Federations offer high-quality services that are of value to our members and we should not be afraid to price these services for what they are really worth. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the federation and to the sport of athletics,” said Gracia.

At the weekend conference, after the official welcome and introduction by President Wirz and Helsinki 2012 European Athletics Championships chairman Antti Pihlakoski, IAAF Council member Helmut Digel presented a talk on the state of the sport in Europe and the way forward in financing it.

Frank Lebert from DLP, the exclusive marketing agency for the German Athletics Federation (DLV), made a presentation on marketing and promotion for a Member Federation, while Hans Peter Edelblut from Nestle Waters explained the meaning of sports sponsorship from his organisation’s point of view.

“The environment within which sports organisations operate is evolving and we are being forced to innovate and be creative with our products and services. Forward-thinking sports organisations don’t just sell a product, but create a product that sells,” said Lebert.

Helsinki 2012 CEO Esa Honkalehto explained how the 2012 European Athletics Championships managed to exceed its sponsorship targets in difficult economic conditions.

Ruud Kok of the Royal Dutch Athletics Federation gave an overview of the Netherland’s mass participation programme that has opened fresh revenue streams for the federation.

Czech Athletics Federation President Libor Varhanik’s presentation centred on innovative ways to capitalise on elite athletes and events at a national level.

Representatives from Norway and Denmark presented their federations’ efforts in generating fresh revenue streams through initiatives in the field of youth athletics and health & fitness.

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