Premier League club Sunderland "is close to announcing a new sponsorship partner to replace Invest in Africa on its jerseys," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. Sunderland "is fighting to stay in the top division." Sunderland's hiring of Italian coach Paolo Di Canio earlier this month caused backlash due to his political beliefs, forcing some sponsors to review their ties with the team.
Group Marketing Dir Mike Farnan said that media reports that Invest in Africa ended a two-year agreement signed last year because of Di Canio’s appointment "were inaccurate." Farnan also "denied the club withdrew from the pact because of concern over the business practices of Invest in Africa’s backer Tullow Oil Plc in Uganda." Farnan said, "The reality is it was a two-year deal with a year’s break clause. What’s happening is we will be announcing a major African conglomerate with 188,000 employees as a sponsor, and Invest in Africa will continue supporting us." Any agreement "won’t be announced until after Sunderland finds out what division it will be playing in." Farnan: "We’re hoping to announce it soon. The focus now is on making sure we secure our Premier League status." Sunderland "has focused on growing its supporter base in Africa, where it also does charity work." Farnan: "Africa is part of our long-term strategy, we’re not pulling out" (BLOOMBERG, 4/11