Sponsors could desert Terry over allegations, experts say

Sponsors, such as Samsung and Umbro, could desert John Terry over allegations of an affair with a former team mate’s girlfriend, according to sponsorship experts.

The England and Chelsea captain, a former winner of Daddies Sauce’s Dad of the Year crown, is understood to have had an affair with the ex-girlfriend of his former Chelsea colleague and England team mate, Wayne Bridge.

News of the alleged indiscretion broke over the weekend after the high court threw out Terry’s request for a “super injunction” to prevent the News of the World publishing details of the transgressions.

Explaining the decision, Mr Justice Tugendhat, said the footballer was more concerned about the impact news of his affair would have on his corporate sponsors than a desire for privacy.

“They (sponsors) may cease to use a famous face if it is associated with behaviour of which the sponsor or the public may disapprove,” he added.

Terry has sponsorship deals with Umbro and Samsung, both of which declined to comment on their relationship with the star. He has also appeared in marketing campaigns for Nationwide and has a sponsorship agreement with Konami to front its Pro Evolution Soccer game.

The star’s former management company, NVA Management, had launched a search for new sponsors last summer and were looking to agree deals with companies in a bid to boost the footballer’s “brand appeal” beyond his association with Chelsea.

Karen Earl, chairman of the European Sponsorship Association, says brands sponsor sportsmen like Terry because of their association with qualities such as “leadership and success” and not allegations of extra marital affairs.

“Once those associations turn negative, as in this case, sponsors will want to distance themselves and this has repercussions for future sponsorship endorsement deals as brands become wary of encountering such risks,” he says.

Pippa Collett, managing director of Sponsorship Consulting, says sponsors will be concerned but will not make quick decisions.

“Sponsors will inevitably be sensitive to consumer opinion and review their investments to see whether the allegations will compromise their ability to achieve specified objectives.

However, on the basis that in a World Cup year there is everything to play for, both on and off the pitch, I imagine sponsors will resist being forced into a knee-jerk reaction”.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti backed his captain over the weekend but the Football Association says England manager Fabio Capello is in “no hurry” to make a decision on his captain’s future.

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