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Volume 6 No. 215

Marketing and Sponsorship

League Championship side Leeds United is "in talks over a lucrative link-up with energy drink giant Red Bull that could lead to the renaming of the club's Elland Road ground," according to Paul Robinson of the YORKSHIRE POST. Top-level discussions "have started between the club and the company about a possible shirt sponsorship agreement." But a stadium naming rights deal "could also be under consideration." Asked whether the talks could involve a stadium naming rights deal, brands expert Jonathan Gabay said, "It’s not out of the question. They would have to be cautious, because the initial reaction of football fans is to resist that kind of move. At the same time, however, I think fans are coming round to the idea that this is the way the sport is going" (YORKSHIRE POST, 7/19).

EPL Liverpool has announced "a two-year extension to their main sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered," according to James Pearce of the LIVERPOOL ECHO. The initial four-year contract, worth up to £20M ($31M) per year, "expires next summer but the lucrative partnership with the bank will now run until the end of the 2015/16 season." The bank's name has appeared on the Reds' shirts since July '10 (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 7/19). REUTERS' Steve Slater reported financial details of the extension "were not released." However, a person familiar with the matter said that the terms "were broadly similar, with potential top-ups if the club is successful" (REUTERS, 7/19). The BBC reported although based in London, Standard Chartered "makes almost all its money in Asia, the Middle East and Africa -- regions where Liverpool have a large following." Standard Chartered CEO Peter Sands said, "Liverpool are hugely popular in the markets where we do business, and we are excited about the opportunity to continue to work with this fantastic club and their passionate fans." Liverpool has "just embarked on a tour of Asia and Australia," which will see them play in front of crowds in Jakarta, Melbourne and Bangkok (BBC, 7/19).

The Football League was breathing a huge sigh of relief on Thursday night "after finally securing a sponsor barely two weeks before the start of the season," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Sky Bet came to the rescue of the league, "which had been left in a desperate scramble to find a backer after B&Q dramatically pulled out of negotiations three months ago." In the end, "the league exploited its relationship with Sky Sports," with whom it also agreed to a three-year extension to its TV deal. Club sources described the overall package as a £300M ($457M) contract, with the TV side said to be worth £90M ($137M) a year over three years from '15 and the immediate five-year sponsorship deal £6M ($9M) a year. However, other sources later dismissed the £300M figure as "a major exaggeration." What "was not in dispute was that although the Football League had expressions of interest from several potential sponsors after B&Q pulled out," it was unable to secure an offer anywhere near the £7M ($10M) a year npower was said to have paid until Sky Bet came to the table. While the sponsorship money may seem trivial, "every penny is vital to the survival of clubs already under severe economic pressure" (TELEGRAPH, 7/18). SKY SPORTS reported from next season, the league's flagship competition will be titled "the Sky Bet Football League," with its three divisions becoming "The Sky Bet Championship," "Sky Bet League One" and "Sky Bet League Two" (SKY SPORTS, 7/18).

Taiwanese tennis champion Hsieh Su-wei "tapped into her homeland's deep political insecurities after word spread that she was willing to become a citizen of China," according to Dan Levin of the N.Y. TIMES. That is, "if she gets the right endorsement contract." A Chinese liquor company had offered Hsieh, 27, 10M renminbi ($1.63M) a year "to represent the western province of Qinghai in China's national sports competition." That "would require her to renounce her Taiwanese citizenship." Of course, it could have been a bluff -- "pressing a geopolitical hot button to drum up support." Either way, "it effectively got Taiwan's attention." China and Taiwan "have been archrivals" since '49. Taiwan's government "has mobilized domestic companies to come to the rescue." These include the state-owned Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Company, which has agreed to pay Hsieh about $167,700 "to endorse Taiwan Beer." Company spokesperson Su K’uei-yang said, "Our priority is that Su-wei can stay in Taiwan and play tennis with peace of mind." The deal, which the company hopes to finalize later this summer, "would not prohibit her from signing with a Chinese company." The family "has refused to identify the Chinese liquor company offering a sponsorship deal." New doubts arose last week, "when the vice director of the Qinghai provincial sports bureau denied that such an offer was on the table" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/19).

Japanese electronic company Panasonic has renewed its contract with Brazilian football player Neymar. The 21-year-old will appear in new advertisements for both B2C and B2B solutions that will be rolled out in 193 countries and regions, starting in Japan on Monday (Cohn & Wolfe). ... German Hockey League (DEL) side Iserlohn Roosters has signed a new title sponsorship deal with brewery Krombacher. The two parties signed a six-year deal, backdated to take effect from July 1. Krombacher's logo will be featured on the front of the team's jerseys. In addition, the brewery will receive marketing opportunities for all club publications (Iserlohn Roosters). ... Nick Faldo "has been revealed as the newest MasterCard brand ambassador at The Open Championship" (THE DRUM, 7/19). ... Huawei Australia and National Rugby League side Canberra Raiders have renewed their major sponsorship deal for the '14 season (Canberra Raiders). ... West Indies Test and Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy "has etched his name in the history books by becoming the first Caribbean sports personality to be named brand ambassador" for BMW (IANS, 7/20). ... Bulgarian club Levski "has begun a large-scale reconstruction of its Georgi Asparuhov stadium in Sofia, although it has not yet formally signed a sponsorship agreement with Russian energy giant Gazprom that will significantly help fund the redevelopment" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 7/19).