Super League Europe, the body responsible for marketing rugby league in the UK, has signed Tetley’s Bitter as its new headline sponsor in an 11th-hour deal.
It is understood negotiations to bring in a new sponsor were still taking place at the end of last week, only days before the new season kicks off this week (MW February 10).
Super League is believed to have been seeking &£1m a year for three years. Tetley has signed an initial two-year deal, with an investment of &£2m, although it is unclear how much cash will actually change hands.
The brand, which is owned by Carlsberg-Tetley, replaces JJB Sports, the nationwide retail sports chain headed by chairman David Whelan. JJB decided to switch its spend to a stadium naming rights programme with Super League team Wigan Warriors.
The league was previously sponsored by Bass Brewers’ brand Stones Bitter.
Tetley already has a strong association with rugby. The brand has sponsored rugby union’s cup competition – the Tetley Bitter Cup – since 1997.
Last year, Carlsberg-Tetley ran an &£8m marketing campaign to support its sponsorship of the England team in the Rugby World Cup. It also sponsored Talk Radio’s coverage of the event.