On reading in this column Cowdray Park Polo Club being another elite and highly prestigious club to follow Guards handing over more to sponsors there is something to be said about the last bastions of esteemed society being seduced by the attraction of sponsorship. Most have a reasonable understanding of why clubs take on sponsors and support it. But I wonder how many of these clubs really understand what the long term effects of agreeing to commercial exchange for alliance means.
When you agree to allow a commercial enterprise to align itself with you in the good old days before everything was digital they were much easier to contain. However Im sure most dont realise that these sponsors monitor every person the club has dealings with and trace their movements online forevermore.
Think your safe because you havent given your email list to sponsors? Think again. How is your club newsletter sent out? Oh whoops, too late. Oh well dont add more problem to your club's future and stop it now. Send it out yourself.
It may seem minor on face value until you realise private membership has no longer any integrity. The only way to stop sponsors effectively taking away your currency and ability to attract sponsors in the future is to have a prenup.
Try insisting your sponsors digital creative is stripped of tags and they agree not to use tracking code or ad servers for a start. When you hand over an email address you are giving them the keys to that person's life. Dont believe me and go ahead and see how many sponsors will agree to you not letting them collect your email list. If you do not have agreement then in time you may not be left with anything they or any other sponsor wants in on. Because they already know more about your membership than you ever will.
Without this agreement sometime in the short long term you will definately come to a point where you have lost all ability to attract sponsors of any ilk. Finding out your sponsors have already collected for their own, every detail of your club's membership, business dealings and transactions on all levels is pretty comprehensive disempowerment.
Clubs that sold their souls back in the naughties, teens and 20s of this cenutry will no longer exist having first lost their appeal to the highly private social elite they emanated from and then soon to follow the social aspirants who pattern them. Any clubs that are left will have little pulling power to attract sponsorships as the sponsors have already mined all the details of the club and copied it to their own databases long ago and have been building on it far beyond any clubs capabilities by now anyway.
But the bright side is in the long term only clubs that exist independent of the need for money to play polo will be able to survive. Ringing in a new era of polo for the purist alone. A return to the days where polo was a truly elite sport and the value of social morays and privacy were held above the importance of publicity and sycophantasia.
For those that find me difficlt to understand here it is -
Keep your membership details off the internet and certainly locked away from sponsors. Never let anyone have any of your digital records, ever.