Budweiser mulls FA Cup ties

Budweiser is locked in last-minute discussions with the Football Association (FA) on whether to renew its multi-million pound deal when it expires at the end of the season, although industry insiders say the brewer is unlikely to continue in favour of more cost-effective sponsorship initiatives.

Budweiser is in talks with football chiefs about the future title sponsorship of the FA Cup.

In a statement the brewer said: “Discussions are still ongoing about the future title sponsorship of The FA Cup.  We are excited to be bringing fans closer to The FA Cup this season with the launch of ‘Budweiser Open Trials’. This gives amateur footballers the opportunity to realise their dreams and win a chance to play at Wembley.  We are also proud to be investing £1million into grassroots football through Budweiser Club Futures.  Sixteen non-league clubs have already benefited from the programme which aims to help them financially secure their future.”

Sources close to the matter told Marketing Week it is “unusual” for serious negotiations for a sponsorship renewal to not have been resolved so far into a season.

It is understood the brewer believes it could use the funds from the £8m-a-season deal to pursue more cost-effective, multi-channel marketing initiatives.

AB InBev feels the sponsorship strategy leant too far towards traditional activations, according to one source close to the FA’s commercial department, and that it was not in line with its plans to push sponsorships further into the branded content arena. It is alleged by some industry observers that the FA’s tight controls on its assets has hampered sponsors’ ability to create long-term commercial value.

The sponsorship shift is said to stem from an influx of fresh marketers to the AB InBev business following its acquisition of Corona maker Modelo in 2012.

Budweiser became the title sponsor of the FA Cup in 2011 in a three-year deal reportedly worth £24m. The brewer activated the partnership through a mix of branded content campaigns such as its “Dream On” football series and more traditional on-pack promotions.

AB InBev’s decision brings into sharp focus the FA’s need to attract global sponsors at a time when some Premier League managers and fans are questioning the Cup’s importance. The governing body is restructuring its commercial team to lead the charge, according to a source aiding the transition, a move which has lead to some existing members leaving.

The FA declined to comment on its commercial relationships but said it is ”happy with its ongoing relationship with Budweiser”.

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