Mobile phone operator T-Mobile is poised to sign a sponsorship deal for the Euro 2004 football championships in Portugal, in a deal worth up to &£9m.
T-Mobile will become the eighth sponsor of the tournament, joining Coca-Cola, Carlsberg, Canon, McDonald’s, Hyundai, Mastercard and JVC.
The move is sure to unsettle rival Vodafone, which has invested heavily in football through its association with Manchester United and star players such as David Beckham.
In June, T-Mobile made a surprise bid to sponsor the Football League Cup, only to be beaten by Carling. An industry insider says the Euro 2004 deal could be the first move in a wider shift into football sponsorship if the tournament is a success.
He says: “The company is starting with Euro 2004, but is also considering a sponsorship of the 2006 World Cup if it is happy with the results.”
The insider adds that the company could steal a march on Vodafone by going into football at European and world levels. The company already has some football sponsorships, such as a shirt deal with Germany’s Bayern Munich. T-Mobile also sponsored the Rolling Stones’ global tour and the latest Charlie’s Angels film. Sponsorship is handled by head of marketing communications David Grint, who was appointed in May (MW May 29).