Despite public outrage over details leaked in the media this week, South Africa’s official tourism board says it will continue to pursue a proposed sponsorship deal with Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.
South African Tourism (SAT) acting CEO Themba Khumalo said that while no contract had been signed, the board had conditionally approved the proposed three-year deal worth 900 million South African rands (£42.5 million/$52.5 million).
Khumalo revealed that, despite the fact that details of the deal, which is set to begin at the start of the 2023-24 Premier League season, have been leaked, confidentiality agreements prevent him from confirming the finer points.
“Somebody maliciously leaked confidential documentation into the press – prematurely – while the discussion was still being had,” Khumalo said.
After visiting London in January, the board of SAT, which is overseen by the South African government, conditionally approved the deal, according to Khumalo.
He also stated that the various government stakeholders had yet to be contacted, as planned, given that SAT is dealing with the fallout from the leak.
“We are part of a broader tourism family, and we cannot simply proceed regardless of what our stakeholders are saying.
“We’ve got to be sensitive to what our partners are saying and make sure that everybody is on board, then we can move together holistically. So that is where the deal is right now.”
Asking for a friend..can @SouthAfrica tourism not look at marketing exposure on playing kit for our national teams @Springboks @OfficialCSA and @BafanaBafana along with the SA URC rugby teams playing in Europe. Might be better keeping it local, getting exposure at same time🤷♂️🇿🇦
— Eduard Coetzee (@coetzee_eduard) February 3, 2023
The proposed deal with a team (Tottenham) currently ranked fifth in the Premier League has drawn criticism from a variety of quarters in South Africa, which is facing economic challenges.
Some argue that the funds intended to fund the proposed sponsorship would be better spent in a country dealing with daily power outages, water shortages, and significant unemployment.
Several national sports federations have also joined the chorus of criticism, claiming that the funds could be used to help financially strapped national bodies and local athletes instead of the proposed deal.
The proposed agreement was denounced as an insult to struggling workers and taxpayers by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the country’s largest trade union federation.
“This is a misguided vanity project that will contribute nothing to fix the ailing tourism industry that has not only suffered from Covid-19 but is also sabotaged by electricity cuts and high crime levels,” Cosatu said in a statement.
In response to critics’ concerns, Khumalo stated that such issues must be addressed by the respective governmental departments under whose jurisdiction they fall.
“The money that’s invested in tourism is not the same money that’s required for energy or for fixing potholes,” he said in Johannesburg. “There are other departments that are dedicated and are given that mandate by legislation.
“Our legislated mandate is about persuading international people to travel to the country and spend money in our economy. Whether it is through this initiative or any other, that is what we will continue to do until told otherwise.”
Khumalo estimated that the 900 million rands ($52.5 million) investment would generate 88 billion rands ($5.1 billion) in foreign spending from tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom and the United States, the country’s two largest tourism markets.
“It’s a solid business case that has a direct impact into foreign investment that comes into the country.”
According to the leaked proposal, SAT would receive kit branding, match-day advertising, interview backdrop branding, stadium hospitality, and partnership announcements, as well as training camps in South Africa.