National sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) announced yesterday that Ironman Endurance Asia has won the tender to organise the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) for the next 10 years, starting from this year's edition until 2025.
This, after SportSG had made a surprise call for tenders last month. The request for proposal, which attracted five bids, raised eyebrows as previous organiser Spectrum Worldwide (SWW) was then still contracted to manage this year's race.
It is believed this unusual call for tenders was prompted in part by SWW's financial woes.
The Straits Times reported last month that SWW owed several vendors six-figure sums for services including road barricades and online registration services.
But it is understood SWW's debt repayment was not one of SportSG's evaluation criteria.
Explaining the decision, SportSG chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said: "Ironman presented a comprehensive proposal that best met our aspirations.
"With its extensive expertise and experience through nearly 260 events globally, we believe that it has the right acumen to enhance Marathon Singapore locally and internationally."
Ironman had submitted a joint bid with SWW initially, but decided to buy over its partner while discussions with SportSG were ongoing.
Asked why it decided to partner SWW despite the latter's cash woes, Geoff Meyer, managing director of Ironman Asia said: "(We) acquired Spectrum Worldwide for its excellent staff and will be immediately establishing our Asia headquarters in Singapore to begin work on operating the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore."
While Meyer said that Ironman welcomes SWW staff "into the Ironman family", there is no room for SWW managing director Chris Robb, whom Meyer said "will not have further involvement in the SCMS, Spectrum or Ironman Endurance Asia".
Robb confirmed the news and said an agreement with Ironman was signed on Monday.
On SWW's outstanding debts, he told The Straits Times: "Every creditor will be paid and I understand (the process) will be starting as early as next week through Ironman."
The Zimbabwe-born Australian added: "The key thing when you sell your business is you have to enable the people that are taking over to move on and run it."
A veteran in the sports events management scene here, Robb said he had no intention of setting up a similar entity to SWW, but could stay in the industry as a consultant.
Ironman is one of the biggest names in endurance athletics and sport event management, organising more than 250 events globally each year. The brand is owned by World Triathlon Corporation, which was acquired by the Dalian Wanda Group, China's largest commercial property company, last year.
The SCMS is one of the largest running events in Singapore, with some 50,000 taking part last year.
•Additional reporting by May Chen