Npower has just walked away from a reported £20m renewal of its deal to sponsor the England cricket team. Twenty million may be a lot of money but I believe that with hindsight it’s a decision npower will come to regret.
You don’t have to look too far for examples of brands that have ditched a sporting team at just the wrong time: this year Australia was sponsored by Vodafone, a brand that supported England through the hard years of perpetual defeat.
When npower took over domestic Test match series sponsorship from Cornhill Insurance for the unsuccessful Ashes series in 2001, few would have anticipated England would win the next two home series against the old enemy. Or that the team would be returning to England in 2011 having won the Ashes in Australia for the first time in a generation.
Npower’s timing in 2001 couldn’t have been better and over the last decade it has helped to improve and enhance the experience that spectators of Test matches in England enjoy and thus significantly raised its profile.
So why pull out now when on-field success is coupled with sustained, year-round coverage of the sport? Npower claims that it does not agree with the value the ECB have assigned to the next four-year contract. It also now has the small matter of the Football League sponsorship to service as well.
However with Eon soon to be in the market for another major sponsorship following the end of its current FA Cup deal and EDF already benefiting from the groundswell of Olympic interest as well as the new London Eye deal, I can’t help but feel that npower will miss a trick by not sticking with the ECB for at least one more term.
The future of English cricket has never looked so rosy. On top of the playing improvements, there is the potential that the government could force the ECB to sell some home international cricket to a terrestrial platform next time TV rights are negotiated, boosting awareness still further.
We all know that the Olympics will dominate the sporting landscape in 2012, but what happens in October that year when the circus packs up and heads off to Rio?
Our traditional sports will still be there, willing and able to fill the void for a new generation of sports-hungry fans. And lurking in the 2013 calendar is the next installment of the Ashes saga to look forward to.
I wonder which brand will be trying to contain their delight at the coverage of the world’s best cricket team taking on the poor old Aussies? I suspect that £20m will look like a bargain by then.
One thing seems certain – it won’t be npower.