Sponsorship scrum after Magners cider calls time on its Celtic League deal
With the rugby season over and honours awarded, attention turns to finding a new sponsor for the Celtic League.
C&C's Magners cider has blown the whistle on the competition it has backed since 2006.
The move is no big surprise. C&C felt it had got as much out of the deal as it could, so -- unlike the Bulmers ad slogan -- there would be no added time.
The dilemma was simple. Magners and Bulmers are one and the same. But due to naming rights, C&C must market the cider as Magners outside the Republic.
The Celtic League is really popular with Irish rugby fans and so C&C got limited return from its rugby investment, which also included deals with Wasps and Edinburgh.
C&C has other demands on its sports marketing spends. Tennent's lager recently signed three-year shirt deals with the two Glasgow football clubs, Celtic and Rangers, each of which are worth €1.8m a season. Magners winners Munster has a three-year shirt deal with Toyota worth €5.75m.
The Celtic League struggled in the early days, but the competition has come on leaps and bounds, boosted by Leinster's success in the more hotly contested Heineken Cup. The league has a turnover of about €50m and attendances last season were over 1m, or 7,000 per game. With Italian clubs Aironi and Benetton on board, Fiat may replace Magners.
League owner Celtic Rugby is looking for about €1m a year. But given the economic climate, may be €500,000 is a more realistic fee.
Meanwhile, Bulmers has a new TV ad with David McWilliams, inset, pouring forth on 'orchardomics'.
Whether or not the feisty economist can add a new crop of cider drinkers this summer, only time will tell.