Nationwide Building Society have confirmed they will not be renewing their sponsorship of the England team.
The move had been widely predicted over the last couple of weeks, leaving the Football Association to find a new partner just three weeks before a friendly with Hungary at Wembley where swathes of empty seats are anticipated following the disappointing World Cup performance.
It also appears to represent the failure of a gamble taken by the FA not to agree a new £5m (€5.9m)-a-year contract with loyal backers Nationwide that had been on the table prior to the World Cup.
Instead, the FA’s commercial team preferred to explore other opportunities, believing the performance of Fabio Capello’s men would generate greater interest and drive up the price.
As it turns out, even Club England managing director Adrian Bevington was forced to admit in his wide-ranging interview yesterday that trust now needed to be rebuilt because the Three Lions had let an expectant public down.
“I can confirm that Nationwide Building Society will not be renewing its England team sponsorship with The Football Association after the current agreement expires at the end of July 2010,” said Nationwide’s head of sponsorship, Chris Hull.
Nationwide have held a long-term interest in football, although they have come under pressure from members recently, with some expressing dissatisfaction at the Society spending such large sums on sponsorship at a time of financial austerity elsewhere.
“In the last 10 years, Nationwide has also been sponsor of the three divisions of the Nationwide League and an official partner of the FA Cup. In addition, Nationwide spent a successful period as the sponsor of the Nationwide Conference.
“Nationwide has been involved with football sponsorship for over a decade and after a fruitful 11-year relationship with The Football Association, the organisation is currently re-focusing its marketing priorities.
“As the world’s largest building society, we will continue to invest in our unique brand position and build on our mutuality and customer credentials. We thank The FA and wish them and the England teams well in all future activities.”
It has generally not been a brilliant time for the FA given they also lost a major TV partner when satellite broadcaster Setanta went bust.
Although between them, ITV, ESPN and BSkyB have bought various FA related contracts, it is not thought the organisation has managed to completely bridge the financial gap and now the pressure is on to ensure they do not lose out again.
An FA statement said: “The FA and Nationwide have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship over the past last eleven years.
“We would like to publicly thank Nationwide for their unstinting support during this time and wish them well in the future.”