Belfast Telegraph

IFA starved of sponsorship cash

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland could face Italy next month still searching for a sponsor to back the international side.

Nationwide pulled the plug on an eight-year relationship with the Irish FA when their four-year deal ended on July 31.

Although a few parties have expressed an interest in backing Nigel Worthington’s boys, no firm offers have been tabled.

Northern Ireland’s stunning 1-0 win in Slovenia has lifted the profile of the Euro 2012 hopefuls, but there is still the gloomy prospect of no title sponsor coming forward before the glamour game against Italy at Windsor Park on Friday, October 8 and the away trip to Faroe Islands the following Tuesday.

Nationwide’s last deal with the IFA was a handsome six-figure sum, but the company has ended its support for the four home nations, leaving Windsor Avenue chiefs on a mission to team up with another big name.

The Irish FA is reeling from negative publicity in recent weeks, but its head of marketing and communications, Geoff Wilson, is confident they can get a positive result on the sponsorship front.

“We had 13 partners and all of them have renewed their relationship with us, apart from Nationwide,” said Wilson.

“It’s got nothing to do with how we treated them, we had an excellent relationship with them, but they are adopting a new strategy and have withdrawn support for the home nations.

“This is a difficult time when countries as well as companies are going bust, but the IFA still has a lot to offer potential partners, particularly massive media exposure and access to the wider football family.

“We are interested in talking to anyone who wants to link up with us because there are no firm offers on the table.”

Belfast Telegraph


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