O2 drops Arsenal sponsorship

O2 is ending its 10 year sponsorship of Arsenal Football Club as it looks to concentrate its efforts on rugby, its Academy venues and the newly-launched Priority Sports initiative.

Arsenal 2003

The mobile operator has been a sponsor of Arsenal since the launch of the O2 brand in 2002. O2 was first a shirt sponsor and then became the club’s exclusive mobile communications partner.

In that time, O2 has focused on raising brand awareness and rewarding its customers with match day experiences and exclusive competitions.

An O2 spokesman says: “As with all our sponsorship agreements we continually review them to ensure they offer the best opportunity for both our business and our customers. We made the decision not to renew our Arsenal partnership to enable greater focus on our existing sponsorships such as The O2, O2 Academy venues and England Rugby.”

An Arsenal Football Club spokesman said: “After ten successful years with O2, we have reached a mutual decision not to renew our partnership. We have worked together well over this time and we wish O2 every future success.”

The club recently signed a three-year sponsorship deal with African mobile operator Airtel. A spokesman for the club said there is no “urgency” to directly replace O2 like for like with another UK mobile operator and that its sponsorship division is focused on building out more partnerships internationally.

O2 told Marketing Week last August that it was looking “whether to continue” its sponsorship of Arsenal as it entered the final year of its contract agreement, partly due to some of the “unsavoury” articles about footballers and football in general, compared with rugby.

The company is currently preparing a “massive” campaign to back the launch of its Priority Sports app, which it has co-developed with Nike – a current Arsenal shirt sponsor.

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