Sponsoring the world’s oldest football cup competition

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With the preliminary rounds underway, and the start of the FA Cup Proper (the point at which the professional teams enter the English Football Association’s annual knockout competition) not far away, what is the backstory to sponsoring this famous old competition?

The previous deal, with beer company Budweiser, was worth £8 million-a-year and came to its conclusion at the end of the 2013/14 season.

Despite the competition being in its early stages for this season, the FA is yet to attract a headline sponsor to sign on the dotted line. Sporting giants Nike and the bookmaker William Hill are registered secondary sponsors but it appears no global brands are keen to follow in the footsteps of Budweiser, E.ON and AXA in sponsoring the magical cup competition.

With a major new TV deal in place for the 2014/2015 season, it is a wonder as to why nobody has yet put their name to the FA Cup. A 4-year contract was signed last year with both the BBC and BT Sport, rumoured to be in the region of £100 million from each party across the contract duration. This will provide more widespread coverage of the competition than we have ever seen before.

So why has no major sponsor come forward?

The attachment of a brand to the FA Cup appears to have no drawbacks aside from the initial investment. The competition, despite its national significance, generates global interest and therefore provides an excellent platform for potential suitors. Back in 2005, the Final attracted an estimated global TV audience of 484 million.

Has the ‘magic’ of the FA Cup finally deserted it? As we emerge from a time where companies have had to squeeze their budgets, is the profile of the FA Cup no longer generating a return on a significant investment over a four year period?

FA Commercial Director, Stuart Turner claims that the FA is “keen to take the sponsorship overseas for the first time.” The first round proper commences in just under a month, will a headline sponsor emerge or will the FA face the embarrassment of ‘sponsoring’ the competition themselves? Watch this space…

Did you know? The first sponsor of the FA Cup was a small betting company, Littlewood Pools, who ceased to exist in 2005 after failing to embrace the internet revolution.

References: FA 1, FA 2, The Guardian, Mediaweek, Sportsbreak

Picture: Talk Sport

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