Pepsi is aiming to snatch the FA Premier League headline sponsorship from Bass Brewers brand Carling, when the beer brand’s deal expires at the end of next season.
Negotiations are likely to begin in the next few weeks, now that the TV rights contracts have been finalised.
The future of Carling’s Premiership contract has been thrown into doubt with Interbrew’s takeover of Bass, and the departure of sponsorship chief Mike Flynn, who spearheaded the football deal. He has quit to join an Internet start-up.
Pepsi is understood to be eyeing the Premiership deal as part of its aggressive attack on Coca-Cola’s “ownership” of football, although insiders expect the contract to cost up to &£60m over four years.
Carling first sponsored the league in 1993, when it paid &£13m, but by the time it renegotiated the contract in 1997, the price had trebled to &£39m.
Britvic Soft Drinks, which markets Pepsi in the UK, launched the brand’s first major football promotion three months ago, for which it signed top stars such as David Beckham, Michael Owen and Dwight York (MW March 2).
The brand, which is also part of Manchester United’s platinum sponsorship programme, recently funded a Channel 5 TV programme, called Inside Football (MW March 16).
A Britvic spokeswoman declined to comment on Pepsi’s plans.