Shirt sponsor Carling are set to end their association with both Celtic and the Huns according to reports in today's media. The brewing company Coors, who own the Carling brand, pay around £2million per season to each club but it's thought that they will allow the deal to lapse when the current contract runs out in 2010. Another joint sponsor of the Glasgow clubs, the telephone company T-Mobile, have already announced their withdrawal from football sponsorship.
In the current financial climate many companies are tightening their belts and sports sponsorship has been one of the first casualties of this recession, indeed only last week AIG indicated that they would not be renewing their multi-million pound sponsorship deal with Manchester United.
It will be difficult to attract major sponsors during this worldwide 'credit crunch' when sponsors everywhere are looking to reduce their spending but it's vital for the health of the Glasgow clubs that they do find backing less they fall further behind teams from the English and other major European leagues who receive huge amounts of cash through massive TV deals.
Celtic, though, have recently bucked the downward trend in sponsorship by announcing another record-breaking kit deal with sportswear giants Nike which could be worth as much as £29 million to the champions over the next five years. Securing a sponsorship deal of this magnitude during a global financial crisis is nothing short of astonishing and Peter Lawwell's mastery in this field should lead to a severe lack of panic in the Celtic Park boardroom should Carling, if as expected, allow their deal to lapse.
It's thought that any further shirt sponsorship deal would not be another joint venture between Celtic and their city rivals and when you look at the public perception of both clubs it is not surprising that the Bhoys would like to distance themselves from the 'Manchester Marauders'. It's well known that the Celtic Park powers-that-be have been concerned for some time at the 'guilt by association' aspect of our rivalry with the huns and they will see this as an ideal opportunity to cut another tie to them.
It will be disappointing for Sir David Murray and his cash-strapped club that he won't be able to hang onto Peter Lawwell's coat-tails this time and as Guinness, Magners and Coca-Cola put themselves into the frame for a deal at Paradise it's difficult to imagine anyone who'd willingly link themselves to Scotland's Shame. Would you like your brand associated with racist, sectarian thugs?