Now SportPesa's sponsorship deal with F1's Racing Point is terminated
SportPesa, the African sports betting operator, has ended its title sponsorship with Formula 1 team Racing Point Force India, one day after its shirt sponsorship deal with English soccer's Everton was terminated.
SportPesa signed a multi-year deal to become the title sponsor of Racing Point in 2019, with its brand featuring prominently on the livery of its race car. However, today it confirmed the deal had been terminated after just one season.
SportPesa said its commercial relationship had concluded at the “end of the initial 12-month agreement” between it and Racing Point, however, the deal was originally announced a “multi-year deal” in 2019.
For the 2020 season, which begins next month, Austrian water treatment company BWT has upgraded its principal sponsorship deal with Racing Point to a full title sponsorship.
Otmas Szafnauer, Racing Point’s chief executive, said SportPesa “had some difficulties in their home market”, telling Motorsport.com: “They still want to be involved but maybe at a different level - not as title sponsor. So we’re still talking to them and they’re friends of the team and hopefully we can also include them as part of our sponsors and partners.”
SportPesa is among the betting companies that had their licences suspended by Kenya’s government in 2019 over alleged tax arrears. It formally closed its Kenyan operations last October while appealing the government’s new tax rules in local courts.
Late Sunday evening, Everton announced its five-year shirt sponsorship deal with Everton, worth around £8 million ($10.4 million) per annum, would end this summer after just three years.
The club claimed the decision was made following a comprehensive review of the team’s “vision and future growth plans.”
Earlier this month, the Football Association of Ireland announced the early cancellation of its two-year partnership deal with SportPesa it signed last year. The FAI said it was “shifting priorities and “re-evaluating its partnership portfolio” amid growing public controversy over soccer’s links to betting.
Meanwhile, India’s only Formula 1 racing track Buddh International Circuit has been closed off due to debts owed by the track’s operator Jaypee Infratech Limited to its landowner, it has been reported.
Jaypee Infratech leased the circuit’s land from Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority but has been facing insolvency proceedings since 2017, according to the Hindustan Times.
The venue hosted Formula 1 races between 2011 and 2013 but was cut from the calendar in 2014 owing to a tax dispute with the local government.
In December last year, Yeida decided to cancel the lease due to failure to make payments due under it.
KK Singh, general manager of projects at Yeida, said: “A team of officials sealed multiple gates of the motor racing circuit as the developer has failed to clear financial dues. We have sealed the Formula One circuit so that the Jaypee Group does not use the property for commercial gains. All the projects located inside the Formula 1 circuit remains sealed now.”
A Jaypee Infratech spokesperson said: “Such a move will be detrimental to attracting investment in the country and the state. Jaypee has completed 90 per cent of its obligations by way of depositing Rs 2,400 crores ($336 million) towards land payment till date.”