Footballer scandals prompt Umbro fears

Umbro has broken ranks with the Football Association’s (FA) four other official sponsors by admitting that recent disreputable events in football could affect its brand.

The company’s admission follows recent allegations of gang rape, drunken behaviour, gun violence, missed drug tests and threatened player strikes.A spokesman for Umbro says: “It is not brilliant for us overall. It is not good for the image of the game. It is a question of wait and see whether the allegations are substantiated.”

The other four sponsors – Pepsi, Carlsberg, Nationwide and McDonald’s – were either not available for comment or expressed commitment to their contracts. An FA spokesman says that no sponsor has expressed any concerns to the organisation.

The Umbro spokesman says the company takes a long-term view of its sponsorship because it is a sports brand. “Our involvement is inherent. We are part and parcel of the game. But if there are brands looking to get into football because it is fashionable, they may decide it is not right for them in the light of recent events.”

He adds that sponsors have received a boost by England’s qualification last weekend to the Euro 2004 finals. He says Umbro remains happy with its grassroots football sponsorship with the FA.

Barclays acting director of sponsorship Nic Gault says the recent football allegations have not affected the value of the Barclays’ sponsorship deal with the Premier League, signed last week (MW last week).

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