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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 18:17 GMT
Why Carling called time on Premiership
Manchester United celebrate with the Premiership trophy
Manchester United celebrate with the Premiership trophy
The final whistle has blown on Carling's relationship with the FA Premiership.

BBC Online's sports business reporter Peter Jones explains why.

Carling has been the Premiership's sponsor since 1993, paying a total of 48m for its two four-year deals, the second of which ends this year.

The impact of the sponsorship was reflected last year in its double success at the Hollis Awards 2000 - the Carling brand won both the sport sponsorship of the year and the sport sponsorship continuity categories.

And recent research revealed a remarkable 39% spontaneous awareness of Carling as the sponsors of the FA Premiership

We have to reach the best deal for the Premier League
  Phillip French,
Premier League spokesman
But all good things must come to an end, and although Carling was one of the four main bidders - it's understood that Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola complete the line-up - the feeling was that the Premier League would opt for a change this time.

"Nothing in world football competes with the Premier League, and it's a huge prize for any sponsor," said John Taylor of JTI, a sport sponsorship consultancy.

"It's the biggest annual football property in the world as far as TV viewing figures is concerned, it has weekly audiences in over a hundred countries, and that's a massive attraction to a sponsor.

"Carling have done a good job in marketing it in the United Kingdom, but I think the Premier League believes the time's right to have a partner to use the property worldwide," said Taylor before the brewer decided to pull out of the contest.

Global ambition

"It's looking for an organisation that can promote the sponsorship in hundreds of countries.

"Therefore it becomes a much better fit with a global brand, which in turn will be prepared to pay more money for the privilege of sponsoring the Premier League."

Carling - one of the Bass Brewery brands - paid 12m for its first four year deal, rising to 36m when they renewed four years ago.

But like the cost of Premiership television rights, the value of its sponsorship has now rocketed, and a figure of 60m has been talked about as the price of the next four year agreement.

Earlier in the week, Premier League spokesman Phillip French was insisting nothing had been decided, with club chairmen still to consider all bids.

"All four bidders are well respected companies, all are very keen on doing a deal," he told BBC Sport Online.

"Yes, Carling are among them. We've had a great relationship with Carling over the last eight years.

"This is a commercial contract and we have to reach the best deal for the Premier League."

Alan Shearer
Shearer and Blackburn lifted the trophy in 1995
The Premiership is now regarded as a global brand and that, according to John Taylor, is why the finger of fate moved away from Carling.

"Even if Carling had matched the best offer, it's quite likely they wouldn't have got it anyway, simply because of those global aspirations of the Premiership.

"How do you achieve that? Through television and pro-active sponsorship worldwide.

"However good a job Carling have done marketing their brand and promoting the Premiership in this country, they wouldn't have been doing it in the Far East or in America, and that's what would have been important to the people who make the decision."

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See also:

15 Jan 01 |  Football
Fifa and Uefa on collision course
19 Jan 01 |  Eng Prem
Premier League sponsors pull out
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