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The influence of sport leagues on the business‐to‐business marketing of teams: the case of professional road cycling

Tim Benijts (Department of Business Studies, Lessius University College, Antwerpen, Belgium)
Wim Lagae (Department of Human Kinesiology, Catholic University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)
Benedict Vanclooster (Roularta Media Group, Roeselare, Belgium)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 11 October 2011




This study seeks to examine how a sport league, a unique feature of professional sport, influences the business‐to‐business marketing of teams participating in the sport league.


This study uses a qualitative research design based on a single case study, the UCI ProTour in professional road cycling. The primary sources consist of 27 semi‐structured interviews complemented by written sources and controlled for construct validity, external validity and reliability.


From a theoretical point of view, a sport league is a marketing channel network (a specific type of an intentionally developed business network or IDBN). Theoretical analysis also reveals that the teams' business‐to‐business marketing is positively related to the network's value‐creating system. Empirically, it is argued that the introduction of a marketing channel network has a positive influence on the financial value of the teams' business‐to‐business market but does not result in a change in the business demographics of corporate sponsors.

Research limitations

The study has possible sport‐specific limitations.

Practical implications

Business‐to‐business marketers and sport league managers should pay attention to the characteristics of the sport league as these influence the teams' business‐to‐business market. This is especially valid for sports in which teams rely strongly on sport sponsoring and, to a lesser extend, on gate revenues, television rights and prize money.


For the first time, this study examines and provides data on the business‐to‐business environment of teams in professional road cycling. It contributes to the literature of international sport marketing and professional road cycling, a sport gaining momentum in various countries and which is understudied in comparison to other sports.



Benijts, T., Lagae, W. and Vanclooster, B. (2011), "The influence of sport leagues on the business‐to‐business marketing of teams: the case of professional road cycling", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 26 No. 8, pp. 602-613.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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