Ford is understood to be close to renewing its &£30m sponsorship deal with the UEFA Champions League, despite industry speculation that their 13-year association was about to come to an end.
The car giant is the only founding partner still sponsoring the Champions League, but its latest three-year deal is due to expire at the end of this season and there had been a feeling among sponsorships experts that the relationship had run its course.
There was even a suggestion that Hyundai was waiting in the wings to become the competition’s official car partner should Ford decide not to renew.
But Ford and TEAM Marketing, UEFA’s commercial rights agency, have confirmed they are in discussions about a new deal and, although both insist nothing has been finalised, sources say the sides are close to agreeing a new deal.
So far, Heineken is the only one of the four Champions League partners to renew its deal. It has swapped the sponsorship from its Amstel brand to Heineken, as first predicted in Marketing Week (November 4, 2004). The other two sponsors are Sony PlayStation and Mastercard.
Earlier this year, UEFA decided to shake up its sponsorship arrangements, expanding the number of official partners from four to six (MW February 17).
As well as the four main sponsors, the Champions League has three official suppliers/ Adidas, Canon and Sharp. But the format is to be changed so that it has six equal partners from the start of the 2006/07 season.