Cricket Australia Seeks to Replace Vodafone Sponsorship

Cricket Australia (CA) has signalled its confidence that the draw of a home Ashes series against England in 2013-14 will enable it to replace major sponsor Vodafone, after the telecommunications giant made the shock announcement that it would end its key sports sponsorships.

Vodafone said it would shelve its financial backing of the Australian cricket team, the summer Test series and its V8 Supercar team in a bid to save tens of millions of dollars and refocus its efforts on improving its network and customer service. “Our sponsorship of the Australian Test cricket team has delivered exceptional value and great experiences to many of our customers, so the decision to conclude the sponsorship at the end of the 2012-13 summer has not been taken lightly,” said Vodafone’s consumer business unit director Noel Hamill, according to The Australian. “We feel that it's best to refocus our investment and attention on delivering the best possible network and service experience to our customers.”

Vodafone is one of CA’s three main sponsors alongside Commonwealth Bank and the VB brewery, with its current contract reportedly being worth between A$10 million (US$9.9 million) and $15 million per year. Its 11-year partnership is now set to draw to a close after next summer’s Test cricket against South Africa and Sri Lanka, with CA executive general manager of commercial, Mike McKenna, stating that Vodafone would always have a special meaning to the organisation.

Vodafone stepped into the breach after the collapse of CA’s previous sponsor, Ansett, on the eve of the 2001 Test season, leaving cricket without a Test partner just weeks before the start of the campaign. McKenna said in a statement: “But like all sports’ sponsorships, there comes a time when the sponsor achieves its partnership objectives and moves on with new strategic priorities. We understand that – Test cricket has helped Orange, 3 and Vodafone become Australian household names and we look forward to continuing to work with Vodafone next summer in what will be the final season of our successful relationship.”

CA will now market the rights ahead of the 2013-14 Ashes summer, with the organisation stating that the Australian team playing Test cricket at home is “possibly the most valuable sports’ sponsorship asset in Australia”. McKenna added: “Our research shows the Australian public loves Test cricket, regards cricket as the sound of summer and that interest in cricket goes through the roof when the traditional enemy, England, tours this country.”