The International Skating Union (ISU) is facing an uncertain commercial future, with testing markets for European TV rights and sponsorship adding to the question-marks arising from last week’s European Commission ruling on the federation’s eligibility rules.
According to the body’s latest annual report which covers the 2016 calendar year, the conclusion of sponsorship agreements is becoming “increasingly difficult”, with the widespread economic slowdown and an “increasingly competitive” marketplace cited as the main explanations.
Meanwhile, whereas Asian TV markets, especially Japan and China, are manifesting positive developments, in Europe, especially France and Russia, “it becomes increasingly difficult to secure the previous TV rights incomes”.
There is also uncertainty over the amount of income for the sport that will be generated in future by the Olympic Games.
The ISU notes that, after several cycles of continuous increase, “between the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, there has been for the first time a reduction of over CHF6 million (£4.5 million/$6 million/€5.2 million) of the ISU’s share in such revenues”.
Predicting stable income over the next three-to-five years, the report adds that Olympic revenue constitutes “an important question mark”.
The federation has, however, accumulated a large store of financial assets.
The balance-sheet for 31 December 2016 values these at more than a quarter of a billion Swiss Francs.
The European Commission last week decided that ISU rules imposing severe penalties on athletes participating in unauthorised speed skating competitions were in breach of European Union anti-trust law.
insidethegames sent a number of questions on the financial report to the ISU, but had yet to receive answers at time of writing.