Three Ireland ends decade-long sponsorship of FAI
Three Ireland, a subsidiary of the international mobile phone operator, will not renew its long-standing sponsorship deal with the Football Association of Ireland, soccer’s national governing body in the Republic of Ireland.
The existing contract will expire in the summer of 2020, after the 2020 Uefa European Championships, which Ireland could yet feature in, with home matches in Dublin, if it can navigate a four-team play-off next March.
Three first became a primary sponsor of the FAI in 2010 in a four-year agreement worth €7.5 million ($8.3 million), before signing an extension running to 2020 worth €8.9 million.
The operator has been a strong backer of Irish soccer for the last decade, investing around €30 million through its sponsorship and other initiatives.
Three said it took the decision for strategic reasons and revealed that it will be stepping away from all sports sponsorship.
Elaine Carey, Three Ireland’s chief commercial officer, said: "Having recently reviewed our full sponsorship portfolio, we have decided to consolidate our sponsorship investment in the area of music.”
In a statement, the FAI said: "In their 10 years as proud backers of Irish football, they [Three] have been Ireland's number one supporter and we will always be grateful to them for their financial and personal support."
The news comes before the FAI is set to release its financial accounts for 2018.
The beleaguered governing body has endured a difficult year, highlighted by a probe into its corporate governance and financial practices.
John Delaney, the FAI’s controversial former chief executive, offered to step aside after it emerged that he secretly lent the association €100,000 in April 2017 in an attempt to cover a temporary shortage of funds.
Neither Delaney nor the FAI reported the loan, which did not appear in the governing body’s audited accounts for that period.
This led to Sport Ireland, the chief sporting governing body and authority in Ireland, suspending its €2.7-million annual grant to the FAI earlier this year.
In September, Delaney resigned from all FAI roles with immediate effect.
In May, Uefa’s Noel Mooney was installed to take up a temporary leadership role with the FAI after it requested support from European soccer’s governing body.
The FAI’s relationship with kit supplier New Balance is in doubt too as the sportswear brand’s current deal with the soccer body also expires next year.
• Mumbai City FC, the Indian Super League club which was recently purchased by City Football Group, the organisation that has investments in soccer clubs worldwide, has agreed a sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi flag carrier.
Among CFG’s stable of clubs, Etihad Airways also sponsors English Premier League champions Manchester City, Major League Soccer outfit New York City FC and Australia’s Melbourne City FC.