NRL Loses Sponsor Bundaberg Rum, Toyota Also Considering Departure
The National Rugby League is bracing itself "for a complete overhaul of its biggest commercial partners," with Bundaberg Rum as the latest sponsor "to call fulltime on its association," according to Josh Massoud of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Additionally, Toyota "is not guaranteed to continue its support of the national youth competitions," and the naming rights holder Telstra "continues to consider its future role." State of Origin also took a blow when it lost retailer Harvey Norman last month. The "potential exit of four of the game's biggest sponsors could leave the new Australian Rugby League Commission regime with an eight-figure hole to fill" in its budget, but insiders "are confident of securing replacements before next year's competition begins." The ARLC is "also on the verge of announcing a new broadcast deal across the Tasman, with interim CEO Shane Mattiske traveling to New Zealand this week for discussions with Sky NZ." Bundaberg said it was a "change in strategy," as opposed to "any dissatisfaction with rugby league." A source said that Bundaberg "wanted to reposition its image toward a wealthier demographic," as supported by the distillery's sponsorship of the Australian Masters golf in Melbourne. Toyota was "more tight-lipped about its ongoing negotiations to sponsor the national youth competition," which it has supported since '08. NRL Director of Commercial & Marketing Paul Kind said that "the changes had been anticipated." Kind: "We had always factored some change in our sponsorship portfolio this year" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 11/29).