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Premier League: As Barclays pull out will they be last title sponsor?

The news that Barclays will not renew £40m-a-year Premier League sponsorship when the  current deal expires at the end of 2015-16 season would be a huge blow to most sporting organisations - but not it seems the Premier League.

Barclays agreed a £120million three-year sponsorship deal back in 2012 but given the TV rights alone are worth £5.1billion the title sponsorship takes on less importance.

Barclays will not renew their £40million-a-year deal when the current agreement expires at the end of the 2015-16 season but having held the deal since 2001 it is harder for a new brand to follow suit.

But with Sky and BT Sport paying a record £5.1billion for TV rights from the start of the 2016 season, Barclays fear the cost of the next sponsorship will also rise considerably and have jumped before they were pushed.

As well as the cost of the sponsorship, they must also consider the costs of promoting it through advertising, public relations and social media.

The popularity of the Premier League abroad is seen as a major factor behind the bank's decision to continue with their sponsorship for almost 15 years.

With games broadcast into 650 million homes in 175 countries, Barclays have used their agreements to promote themselves throughout the world, particularly in Africa and Asia.

But according to Sky Sports one option The Premier League is considering  is actually abandoning its long-running title sponsorship‎ option when Barclays' pull out.

According to reports, Sky News has learnt that the Premier League is in talks with its shareholders, the 20 clubs, about moving to a 'partnership model' which would involve alliances with a handful of brands in different industries.

The idea, which is at an early stage, would signal an evolution of one of the ‎most lucrative commercial deals in British sport.

Barclays has‎ held the title sponsorship rights to the Premier League since 2001, when it took over from Carling, the lager brand.

Some leading clubs ‎are said to favour abandoning the existing structure because they believe they could earn more money from a series of partnership deals.

The prospective changes were discussed at a meeting on Thursday.

Sources indicated on Friday that the Premier League was continuing to discuss title sponsorship opportunities with companies including Diageo, which has been examining a tie-up with its Guinness brand.

A decision is likely in the next few months, with Premier league sources suggesting that strong competition for a deal meant that a title sponsorship remained the likeliest outcome.

‎In a memo to staff on Thursday, Barclays said that it would not renew its £40m-a-year agreement:

"Since we took on the sponsorship under the Barclaycard brand in 2001 the Premier League’s popularity has grown exponentially around the world.

"The sponsorship has been very successful for Barclays, but having carefully considered whether it is the right partnership for us given where we are as a business and a brand today, we have concluded the time is right to pass the baton on.

"The core consideration informing this decision was the balance between the benefit to Barclays and our brand versus the likely investment required to carry on.

A source close to Diageo said it remained interested in a deal, while other potential sponsors, including a major automotive company, are also in talks.

The news that the League may decide to operate without a title sponsor comes six weeks after it signed a record-breaking £5.1bn live broadcast rights deal with companies including Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, the source of the current story.


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