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Sponsor to end deal in Anelka row

West Brom sponsor Zoopla has said it will end its lucrative shirt deal with the Premier League football club at the end of the season following Nicolas Anelka's controversial "quenelle" gesture.

The property website said it had been reviewing its position in recent weeks following the French striker's goal celebration during Albion's 3-3 draw at West Ham on December 28, which the Football Association is investigating.

It is understood Zoopla is far from happy with West Brom's decision to continue to play Anelka despite the furore surrounding the gesture, which has been declared by some to be anti-Semitic.

Zoopla is co-owned by a Jewish businessman, Alex Chesterman.

Lawrence Hall, head of communications at Zoopla, said: "Through our sponsorship of West Bromwich Albion we are pleased to have supported the local community and charities.

"In recent weeks, however, we have decided to re-evaluate this sponsorship and as a result we will focus our attention on other marketing activities from the end of the season."

Anelka has reportedly promised not to repeat the gesture, which he said was made in support of performer Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, whom the French government has tried to ban from making the sign at his shows.

The FA was criticised last week by Kick It Out for its initial silence on the matter, and for not acting quickly enough, with the campaign group calling for "an urgent decision".

It expected to announce the result of its investigation early next week.

There is a possibility Anelka will be handed a lengthy ban should he be charged and found guilty, denying the club a key striker for a phase of their bid to avoid relegation this season.

West Brom's sporting and technical director Richard Garlick said of the Anelka issue, before the sponsorship issue emerged: "There are investigations ongoing, and while they are we won't make any comment."

Pressed on the matter, Garlick added: " It would help everyone for that investigation to be over as soon as possible, and the FA have given their statement about how quickly they will do that."

West Brom's new head coach Pepe Mel takes on his first game in charge against Everton tonight at the Hawthorns.

West Brom issued a statement to "clarify its position" following Zoopla's announcement and confirmed the club had received written confirmation of the sponsor's intentions.

"West Bromwich Albion has been fully aware since the sponsorship agreement came into force in June 2012 that its partnership with Zoopla could expire this summer and therefore has been planning accordingly," the club said in a statement on its website.

"Zoopla has today informed the club in writing that it does not wish to extend its sponsorship deal. The club will now actively seek a new official sponsor for next season."


From Belfast Telegraph