Stawell Gift organisers remain confident the event will be as strong as ever in 2019 despite a significant reduction in the prize pool.
Total prizemoney for the winners of the Stawell Gift and Women’s Gift this year will total $25,000 each, with $17,000 going to the winners of the respective races.
The new amount is significantly lower than the $40,000 for the winners in 2018, with prize money for the first four runners in each of the Gift finals.
Stawell Athletic Club president Darryle Harrison said the club did not make the decision lightly.
“We recognise the prize pool has been reduced. As a committee we made the reduction to make the event financially sustainable and to ensure its future,” he said.
Mr Harrison confirmed the Stawell Gift will remain the richest footrace in Australia despite the drop.
A lack of major sponsorship in recent years has dealt a significant blow to the club’s financial situation, forcing the reduction in prizemoney.
This year will be the third consecutive Stawell Gift without a major sponsor if one is not signed on before Easter.
“Commercial sponsorship has been difficult to realise in recent years,” Mr Harrison said.
HELP NEEDED! Surely there is a big business out there who can sponsor the iconic STAWELL GIFT? It would be a shame to watch the race slowly die. So much history. Please RT this around and help them find a sponsor for the event.— Tim Rosen (@timrosen35) February 4, 2019
“We continue to work with prospective commercial partners and governments at different levels in supporting the Stawell Gift.”
The reduction is not set in stone, Mr Harrison saying the club is open to increase the amount depending on sponsor signings in the coming months.
“If a naming rights sponsor comes up we definitely would reconsider,” he said.
Victorian Athletic League chief executive Tom Burbidge said while it is “devastating” for the prize pool to drop he is confident the reduced amount will not impact the success of the event.
“The Stawell Gift is the pinnacle of running in Australia and holds a special meaning for many people,” he said.
“Its story is synonymous with Australia's unique sporting history so we will will continue to support the Stawell Athletic Club to ensure the success of the Stawell Gift.”
Commercial sponsorship has been difficult to realise in recent yearsSAC president Darryle Harrison
Despite a lack of major sponsorship, the Gift will once again be broadcast live on Channel Seven on Easter Monday from 11.30am until 2.30pm.
360 Sport and Entertainment manages the Stawell Gift. 360 managing director Trent Taylor said he is confident the 2019 event will be another successful one.
“We are expecting a similar field to last year of nearly 700 athletes,” he said.
“Everything synonymous with the Gift is still in place, everything is poised for another good event.”
Athlete nominations are now open for the 2019 Stawell Gift.