SMEs want to boast of Commonwealth Games involvement, not be gagged like London 2012

Yesterday the Government boasted that the UK has met an £11 billion ‘Olympic legacy’ target for the Games. But days earlier, Ministers admitted that 151 companies have been refused the right to promote their involvement in any marketing.

Most have been barred under rules that were designed to protect the exclusive rights of big-name sponsors. The figure, released by the Government following a Parliamentary question, has renewed concern ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

According to a report in Financial Mail on Sunday, by November 5, the British Olympic Association had received applications from 914 companies for a Supplier Recognition Scheme licence allowing them to ‘champion their involvement’ in the London Games.

Of the 151 suppliers declined permission, many of them SMEs, 108 were firms providing products falling in an ‘excluded category’, meaning their line of business is in the same field as one of the major sponsors, which included Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and global conglomerate GE.

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna said: ‘I will press Ministers this week to make sure that lessons are learned and similar mistakes are not repeated with next year’s Commonwealth Games, which thousands of businesses are helping to deliver.

It is a real shame that more than 150 British businesses which helped make last year’s Games such a success are missing out on the opportunity to promote and use their work for marketing to win business across the globe for Britain, having been rejected by the Government’s Supplier Recognition Scheme.

‘This comes after Ministers dragged their feet in setting up the scheme, meaning many firms were not able to bang the drum about their work in the crucial first months after the Games.’

Becky O’Connor, sales and marketing manager at SE Controls UK, which provided temperature control systems for the Velodrome, said: ‘There were companies that were allowed to benefit and others restricted. There didn’t seem to be any logic to the restriction.

‘We got excited when there was talk in August about relaxation of the rules, but then found we had to apply to the SRS and were told there was no relaxation for us.

‘We did not know which sponsor we overlapped with and felt we were penalised because they did not understand the work we carried out.
‘Those putting on the Commonwealth Games need to take account of the needs of small businesses as well as big ones. You want to shout about it if you are involved in such a high-profile project.’