London, Dec 17 (IANS) English cricket faced the repercussion of global meltdown with global cell phone service provider major Vodafone declining to renew the 12-year-old sponsorship deal with the national team.
The England cricket team thus gained unwanted membership of an ever-expanding club in global sport hit by global recession.
Vodafone's decision not to renew its sponsorship deal worth Â£4million a year in 2010 comes close on the heels of Honda's withdrawal from Formula One and the ending of the Subaru and Suzuki teams' sponsorship.
These are only the most recent and visible effects of the global recession on sport.
Others include February's Indian Golf Masters, which has been cancelled in part because of 'economic uncertainty', Manchester United - which will lose its Â£14m shirt deal with troubled sponsor AIG when it pulls out in 2010 - and Epsom racecourse, which is still hoping to find a backer for the two-day June meeting that includes the Derby and Oaks after Vodafone ended their 13-year investment. Even Tiger Woods has lost a reported $7million a year after close to a decade with General Motors, as the US car giant hits the skids, The Guardian reports.
'In my 30 years, I have never known a time like this,' says Rob Prazmark, CEO of 21 Marketing who has worldwide experience of the global sports sponsorship market.
'In other recessionary times if, say, the US market was not doing well then Asia would balance it out, or if Europe was struggling, then Latin America was strong. So selling global properties was regionally balanced. This is not the case now, although here in the US, for example, there are three or four businesses that are doing fine but, maybe for PR reasons, do not want to flaunt it.'
Vodafone's decision leaves the ECB looking for a new headline sponsor for the England team just as it is also renegotiating deals with Npower, which sponsors home Tests, and NatWest, which sponsors one-day internationals.
The ECB's commercial director, John Perera, admitted that it was 'not the greatest time' to be trying to find a new sponsor but remained 'confident that (the package) will prove attractive'. He hoped to match the existing Â£4million a year but said the deal may be structured differently, with the option of a break clause after two years.