Electronics giant JVC is poised to drop its long-running sponsorship of Arsenal Football Club following a turbulent year at the club.
Striker Paul Merson was caught up in a scandal involving drugs, alcohol and gambling, while manager George Graham was sacked for allegedly taking transfer “bungs”.
A decision on JVC’s 15-year relationship with the club – the longest in British football – is expected soon.
A spokesman for JVC says its three-year contract, believed to be worth more than 2m, with Arsenal is due for renewal at the end of this season.
However, the company directors making the decision over sponsorship are heading to Japan and are not due back for several weeks.
The spokesman says “particularly bad things” including Merson’s and Graham’s actions, will be taken into consideration as part of the review.
Merson has since been through rehabilitation for his addictions while Graham still maintains that payments totalling 425,000 from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge were unsolicited gifts despite an FA commission verdict of misconduct.
“I don’t know when a decision will be made exactly, but it will have to be soon. Arsenal will need know to find another sponsor,” says the spokesman.
JVC’s name appears on Arsenal’s team shirts and the deal also allows the company to use its name on some signage at the club’s Highbury stand.
Arsenal’s marketing manager Phillip Carling believes the club will still continue its relationship with JVC, although terms of the contract had differed.
Carling will not confirm whether the club has tried to increase its sponsorship funding from JVC. It is understood to be asking for 1.5m a year in line with deals such as Sharp’s deal with Manchester United.
Meanwhile, Citroë, which supplies cars to Arsenal, denies speculation that it is negotiating with the club to take over as the main sponsor.