NTL has further tightened its grip on the UK football market this week by striking a &£31m partnership with Scottish Premier League champions Rangers and offering the same deal to arch rivals Celtic.
The cable giant already has a kit deal with both clubs to prevent alienating itself from either set of sectarian supporters, but the Celtic board has yet to take up the new sponsorship offer.
The Rangers deal includes a media partnership, worth &£10m, and a joint venture investment by NTL subsidiary Premium TV, worth up to &£21m.
The agreement means Rangers and Premium TV will jointly act on an exclusive basis to exploit media and commercial rights, including Internet services. But the company will not be taking an equity stake in the club.
Premium TV chief executive Geoffrey Hamilton-Fairley says: “NTL and Rangers will combine their strengths to get the best return for the club from sponsorship, advertising and media rights. It is also about harnessing all media opportunities, including e-commerce and the Internet, which is going to be an increasingly important medium in football.”
Last week, NTL took a 9.9 per cent stake in English Premier League club Leicester City, in a &£12.5m deal. With the Rangers deal, it now holds stakes in five British clubs, the others being Aston Villa, Newcastle and Middlesbrough.
NTL is among the companies bidding for the broadcasting rights for the Carling Premier League. The result is expected to be announced on Thursday.