Bass Brewers and Barclays Bank have pulled out of talks with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to sponsor the former Pilkington Cup, and have sent letters to the sports body complaining about the way the negotiations were conducted.
Carlsberg-Tetley is expected to sign a 9m deal with the RFU, which will cover the cup, sponsorship and the brewer’s pouring rights around Twickenham, the home of English rugby, as well as a range of smaller competitions.
A senior source at one of the companies says: “The terms of the deal kept changing. One day we were being sold the old Pilkington Cup. The next day we were being sold a vastly inflated package of rights that we valued at 1m a year at best. This was not the way you treat blue chip companies, and we sent them a letter making our feelings clear.”
The former Pilkington Cup, which is already under way, does not have a sponsor. It is temporarily being called the RFU Senior Knockout Cup. The RFU plans to make an announcement about the sponsors for the competition next Monday.
A Barclays Bank spokeswoman says: We were considering the former Pilkington Cup at one stage, but for a number of reasons it did not come to fruition.”
Richard Field, the RFU director of marketing, comments: “We never discuss details of confidential negotiations between ourselves and prospective sponsors.”