ITV has been accused of holding England and FA Cup sponsors Nationwide and e.on to ransom after demanding millions of pounds more to secure sponsorship rights for a handful of games.
It is understood that the broadcaster is asking Nationwide for £6m for a two-year deal including five England home qualifier games and some friendlies. However, it is thought to have demanded at least double that from e.on to secure the broadcast sponsorship rights for the FA Cup.
Setanta, which bid £425m with ITV to take the rights from the BBC and BSkyB, is also negotiating with the brands. Its four-year contract begins in August.
Nationwide and e.on are part-way through four-year deals with the FA, and have been offered first refusal on the rights for the remaining two years of their contracts. However, neither brand had expected to pay extra to protect the event sponsorship or risk losing the high profile rights to rivals looking to hijack their deals.
In the past, broadcast sponsorship rights have either been included in the broader FA package or, in the case of the BBC, disallowed.
A source close to the negotiations says the brands feel aggrieved by the amounts being asked for and the properties are “too expensive”. But if they refuse to take up broadcast rights they risk the value of their original sponsorship being “watered down”.
However, an ITV insider says the sponsorship deals offer “value for money”. The insider says: “These are premium and prestigious sponsorship properties that attract a valuable ABC1 male audience, which involve a lot of programming and opportunities across platforms.” Potentially, sponsorship could involve digital, mobile and high-definition services.
The insider also suggests that as a commercial broadcaster ITV is right to look at maximising its investment in football.
Nationwide’s entire annual sponsorship budget is believed to be £6m, including rights fees and supporting campaigns. Nationwide says that talks between the FA, Nationwide and the broadcasters are continuing but declines to comment ≠further.
ITV and e.on declined to comment as Marketing Week went to press.