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Top 14’s Agen set to lose Gifi from sponsorship portfolio

(Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

French rugby union club Sporting Union Agenais (SUA) is set to lose the sponsorship of French discount chain Gifi at the end of the 2020 season.

Currently one of the club’s shirt sponsors, Gigi’s deal with SUA will not be extended beyond the current campaign amid the challenging circumstances of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The association between the two organisations began in 2018, with Gifi reported to be paying around €200,000 ($218,000) per season for the contract.

The deal formed part of a kit sponsorship portfolio which was headlined by front-of-shirt sponsor, restaurant chain Bigard and kit supplier Errea.

Club president Jean-François Fonteneau suggested the club would not be required to reimburse its sponsors for the cancellation of the 2020 season.

He told the regional Sud-Ouest newspaper: “Our contracts provide for this scenario where the matches are cancelled. It is clear, in cases of force majeure, the club is not responsible. So, theoretically, we don’t have to reimburse our partners. They do not have to demand the reimbursement of services which have not been delivered. We have no obligation. However, this situation must be taken into account in the commercial discussion.”

SUA competes in France’s premier rugby division, the Top 14. The remainder of the 2019-20 season was cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The French Rugby Federation (FFR) now hopes to launch the 2020-21 season as planned in September.

French pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus, the broadcast rights-holder for the competition will reverse its decision not to pay the final fee instalment for this season’s Top 14 rugby union competition if the move severely impacts clubs’ cash flow, according to reports.