Cinch, the UK used-car dealership, has terminated its title sponsorship agreement with the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), Scotland’s top-tier men’s soccer competition, two years early.

In 2021, Cinch and the SPFL agreed on a five-year contract for the car dealership to be the title sponsor of all four professional tiers of the Scottish soccer pyramid.

The contract included a clause that would allow Cinch to walk away from the deal after three years, a clause it has now exercised.

Cinch will continue its sponsorship of the SPFL until the end of the ongoing 2023-24 season, at which point a new title sponsor will have to be found.

The SPFL stated: “The [Cinch] deal played its part in helping the SPFL deliver record-breaking revenues back to its 42 clubs in the last 12 months."

The deal was reported to have been worth around £8 million ($9.7 million) across its duration, a tally which will now be cut short at around £4.8 million.

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It also leaves the league without a title sponsor for the 2024-25 season onwards, unless they arrange one before then. 

The agreement was signed in 2021, coming off the back of a COVID-affected 2020-21 season, where the SPFL had failed to secure a title sponsor for the league.

At the time, the Cinch deal was hailed as the SPFL’s “largest-ever sponsorship”, however, it was not without its controversies.

Record Scottish champions Rangers refused to participate in the contractually obligated advertising of Cinch branding throughout the deal, on the grounds that former Rangers chair and large shareholder Douglas Park is the owner of a competing business, used-car dealership Park’s Motor Group (PMG).

As a result, the club was locked in a long-running, multi-year dispute with the SPFL over its refusal to showcase Cinch branding at its stadium, on broadcasts, in the title of its man-of-the-match award, or on the sleeves of the club's shirts.

Throughout the process, Rangers maintained that there were loopholes in the Cinch contract that allowed the club to avoid its sponsorship responsibilities, on the grounds that it would breach the club’s own contractual sponsorship obligations signed prior to the Cinch deal, in this case with PMG.

In June 2022, after a private mediation process, the legal status of Rangers’ argument was upheld and the Cinch deal was revised to exclude Rangers from its advertising obligations while maintaining Cinch’s overall investment in the league.