Why do all good things come to an end? An inquiry into the discontinuation of sport sponsor–sponsee relationships

Mark van Rijn, Samuel Kristal, Jörg Henseler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the reasons for the discontinuation of sports sponsor–sponsee relationships and categorize them. Despite the negative outcomes of a sponsorship dissolution, research on this topic is rather scarce. Design/methodology/approach: The paper relies on an analysis of 24 historical cases and 19 in-depth interviews focusing on the Dutch soccer league. Several sponsorship disruptors are identified and clustered into four categories. Findings: The four categories for sponsorship dissolution are the following: sponsor-related factors, sponsee-related factors, inter-relational factors and external factors. In total, ten sponsorship disruptors are identified: insufficient value creation, objectives achieved, sports results, signal to society, exclusivity, negativity, personal relationship, changed marketing strategy, financial situation and legislation and regulation. Research limitations/implications: This study primarily investigates soccer sponsorship cases. Future research could investigate other sponsorship areas, which could yield different reasons for sponsorship termination. Practical implications: Practitioners are advised to view the sponsorship relationship as a strategic alliance, rather than a resource, from the beginning of the sponsorship. A solid relational framework is needed, which is built around the elements of trust, commitment and collaborative communication. If such a foundation does not exist or has eroded, the sponsorship relationship is fragile and can be endangered by various factors. Originality/value: This study uses inductive reasoning to devise a framework that enables sponsees to anticipate when sponsors are likely to discontinue their sponsorship such that the sponsees can take actions accordingly. Apart from validating existing reasons for sponsorship dissolution, this research also presents novel and previously undiscovered sponsorship disruptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-241
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Historical analysis
  • In-depth interviews
  • Soccer
  • Sponsorship termination
  • Sponsor–sponsee relationships


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