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Thursday, August 19, 1999 Published at 08:36 GMT 09:36 UK

Sport: Cricket

Test sponsors consider withdrawal

Stormy outlook for cricket finances if another sponsor pulls out

The insurance company who have backed English cricket for 22 years are considering ending their sponsorship deal.

Cornhill Insurance are concerned about "long-term poor performances."

The news was released on BBC Radio 5 Live hours before England meet New Zealand in the final Test at The Oval where Nasser Hussain's men bid to restore pride after a disappointing summer.

"We are concerned about the long-term performances of England because it impacts upon audiences and that's effectively what we're buying," Cornhill Insurance spokesman Geoff Meyhew told the Wake Up to Money programme.

"If these performances continue to produce an adverse effect on the perception people have of cricket then yes we will have to consider our position with cricket as a major sponsor."

Last year Britannic Assurance, AXA and Texaco all ended sponsorship deals with English cricket.

This season World Cup marketing bosses failed to attract a full quota of sponsors for the tournament.

The England team still have a lucrative deal with the mobile phone company Vodafone which was signed in 1997 and is reported to be worth £13m over four years.

Cornhill began backing English Test cricket in 1978, and have put a total of £24.5m into English since then.

The original contract was worth £1.1m between 1978 and 1982, but now £3m is put in each season.

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