Building supplies group Jewson is ending its sponsorship of the Rugby Football Union first and second divisions at the end of this season, when its three-year deal expires.
The company, which has more than 550 stores nationwide, is planning to switch its budget to community-based programmes.
Jewson marketing director Matthew Jenkins says: “National sponsorship has brought a number of benefits, but as our business grows we are committed to supporting our branches at local level.”
The move leaves the RFU with only one headline sponsor – Premier League backer Allied Dunbar – just a week after the leading clubs backed former England star Rob Andrew’s gameplan for the future.
This proposal includes at least two additional competitions – the British Cup and the European Challenge Cup – which will need to secure sponsorship.
The restructure is being funded by the International Management Group (IMG) sports marketing agency, which is understood to have made a provisional offer to the RFU of almost &£10m in funds a year.
IMG has worked with the RFU on a project basis for a number of years, negotiating second-tier supplier sponsorship deals with Carlsberg-Tetley and Nike.