How you can triumph at winning contracts for future major international sporting events

The Global Major Sporting Events business offers a number of exciting opportunities for UK companies to develop and export the skills they have learned working on events in the UK, including the 2012 Olympics, World and European Championships and Commonwealth Games.

The success of the 2012 Olympics means that UK companies generally have an excellent reputation in delivering major sporting events, and most of these skills are very transferable for similar events in other countries.  However, at the end of the day, doing business in this sector is no different to that in other sectors, and companies need to observe some basic rules.

The first is that all host nations will seek, as we did for the Olympics, to maximize the input of domestic companies.  Therefore, the first activity for a UK company entering a new market is to find a local partner.  There can be various forms of association depending upon the exact nature of the event and the ambitions of the UK company in terms of seeing the event just as a one-off opportunity, or as the basis for a long term commitment to the market.  So they may just be looking for a joint venture agreement specific to the event, or an acquisition or the establishment of a local office via the direct recruitment of staff.  You will not win work just tendering directly from the UK without any local involvement!

So how do you go about finding the right partner and acquiring that critical local knowledge? There is no substitute for visiting the market as soon after the event is awarded as possible.  Even if your skills are required towards the end of the event cycle, do not leave it until shortly before the critical tenders are to be advertised, as by then your competitors will have snapped up the best local partners.

British Expertise, working under contract to UKTI, have organised outward missions to all the countries hosting major events such as the Summer and Winter Olympics, Football World Cup and regional games such as the Asian and Pan-American. These missions are organized with a mix of group briefings, so you understand the basics of doing business in the country such as taxation, accounting and employment law requirements, a high level networking reception hosted by the British Ambassador, a look at some of the existing sports infrastructure, and then some time whereby you, with the assistance of the local UKTI team, can have some 1-2-1 meetings with prospective partners and clients.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which we have all just seen on our TV screens, was a success despite the need to work in a challenging environment, and they benefitted from the input of a number ofUKcompanies.  We organized 4 outward missions for UKTI to Sochi and Moscow from 2008, and this resulted in some headline successes such as the main stadium in Sochi being designed by the same UK architect, Populous, that designed the main London Olympics stadium, albeit with a strong local design partner from St Petersburg.  Further down the supply chain, even the catering master-plan was written by UK consultants, RP Global, who did the same job for the London Olympics. These awards would not have been possible without the help of the UKTI staff in Russia in introducing these companies to potential clients, local partners and jointly helping them understand how to successfully win business in Russia.  The Winter Olympics now moves onto South Korea for 2018 in Pyongyang, where working with UKTI colleagues in Seoul, we have already taken two trade missions.

So the message is that skills and products are indeed very transferable in the major sporting events sector, but this does not mean you will win work unless you do your homework thoroughly, understand the local business regulations, and critically find that right local partner.  It is never too early to start doing that, because as soon as the event is awarded, if you do not start finding a partner, your competitors will! This is the critical area where British Expertise and UKTI can help you. For more information visit


Sectors: Sports
Topics: Major Sporting Events and Winning Global Contracts
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