The FA Premier League’s headline sponsorship package – currently held by Bass Brewers’ brand Carling – could fall victim to the broadcast giants’ battle to secure the lucrative TV rights deal.
Sources close to the Premiership believe that if the bids soar well over &£1bn, as widely predicted, the winning broadcaster will demand greater exclusivity.
Bass’ four-year contract with the Premier League, which cost the brewer &£39m, expires at the end of 2001, at the same time as the broadcast deal.
One insider says: “There are two brand names for the same thing – the FA Premier League and the Carling Premiership. If you are paying up to &£2bn for the broadcast rights, you don’t want someone else’s brand overshadowing yours.”
The Premier League refutes the suggestion. A spokeswoman says: “The broadcast rights package is separate from our title and second-tier sponsorship deals and, as far as we are concerned, it is likely to stay that way.”
Bass Brewers head of sponsorship Mike Flynn was unavailable for comment as Marketing Week went to press. However, he has been quoted as saying the brewer is in the very early stages of talks with the Premiership.
Both TV companies which are planning to bid – Rupert Murdoch-owned BSkyB and Bill Gates-backed NTL – refused to comment.