Last week it was Roy Keane, this week it is Vodafone who have done the dirty on Manchester United. The once mighty English football club, which is now battling for its Champions league survival, is to lose its shirt sponsors at the end of this current season with two years left on its contract.
Voda is apparently shifting its sponsorship to the Champions League and it plans to offer video highlights and goals from the premier European club competition to its 3G customers across the world.
When the Voda/United deal was first inked back in 2000, Vodafone execs talked excitedly about offering video content from the club to its legions of fans. So it is kind of ironic that it has pulled the plug less than a year after finally making the footage available to its mobile customers.
Whether Vodafone is responding in any way to fans’ pleas – United supporters had urged Vodafone at its annual investors’ meeting in July to end the sponsorship deal as a way of protesting about American tycoon Malcolm Glazer’s 790 million pound takeover – is a moot point.
As well as the Champions League Voda has lucrative sponsorship deals with the England cricket and rugby union teams.