Chinese shipping company Seamaster has agreed a deal to become title sponsor of the International Table Tennis Federation’s World Tour series.
The four-year deal runs from 2017 to 2020. This year’s series will officially be known as the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour.
Seamaster will work closely with the ITTF to develop all aspects of the Tour, including prize money, sports presentation, fan experience and the global promotion of the series.
Seamaster has an existing relationship with the ITTF, having title sponsored last year’s season-ending World Tour Grand Finals and Star Awards in Qatar. Seamaster also held naming rights for the 2016 Women’s World Cup, which was staged in the US city of Philadelphia.
“Seamaster has been involved in recent ITTF events, and we believe they are a great fit for the established ITTF World Tour,” ITTF president Thomas Weikert said. “This new partnership with Seamaster will allow the ITTF to push the World Tour to new unseen heights to give our players the best possible conditions to excel as well as conducting some social initiatives around the world.”
The ITTF announced in November that, from January 1, it would be exploiting its commercial rights in-house. The ITTF had held a commercial and marketing partnership with TMS International since 2003 but the body opted to switch to an in-house model to allow for greater flexibility.
The Seamaster deal is the first major partnership signed by the ITTF since it switched strategies. The body’s marketing and commercial director, Steve Dainton, who took over the running of commercial rights at the start of the month, said: “It’s a fantastic start for ITTF after just taking the rights in-house.
“But more importantly, it's remarkable to work with a company like Seamaster who sees the potential in table tennis. This deal will allow ITTF's commercial operations to grow at a faster rate, and ensure our World Tour events become stronger. We are looking forward to a fruitful and exciting journey working with Seamaster on this large project.”
The 2017 World Tour includes 12 events across the world plus the season-ending Grand Finals. The top 16 male and female players from the 12 World Tour events will qualify for the Grand Finals.