The ECB have lost a second major sponsor in three months after Brit Insurance decided not to renew its deal as the England team sponsor. In August, Friends Life, sponsors of domestic cricket for six years, also decided against continuing their backing of the t20 competition.
Brit Insurance will bring to an end their nine-year association with cricket after "fundamental, structural and strategic change in its business interests." Earlier this year, the company axed its marketing and communications team and their new direction steers them away from the four-year deal with the ECB which began in 2009 and saw them succeed Vodafone. Brit had previously been the principal sponsor of Surrey, with The Oval rebranded under their name from 2004 to 2010.
Brit's sponsorship of England, reportedly worth up to £18 million, has coincided with one of the most successful periods in the team's history. The men's team won the 2010 World T20, regained the Ashes in Australia with a first away series win for 24 years in 2011 and reached No. 1 in the world Test rankings in the same year. The women's team retained their status as the No. 1 ODI side and reached the final of the 2012 Women's World T20.
"We are very proud to have partnered with the ECB and supported them in what has been a fantastic period in English cricket," Mark Cloutier, the Brit Group CEO, said. "But as Brit's business has re-shaped and developed into something very different to the business it was a few years ago, it's right that we step back and allow another sponsor to come forward and build on this brilliant partnership opportunity."
Brit's deal extends until April 2014, to include the next Ashes series in Australia but the ECB are looking to agree a new deal for a minimum of three years and have an arrangement that could see a new sponsor take over before Brit's contract expires.
"The ECB thanks Brit for what has been an important and successful partnership for both parties," the ECB commercial director, John Perera said. "Brit has benefited from significant exposure as both the men's and women's teams have achieved extraordinary levels of success since the partnership began. Our search for a new sponsor will begin immediately and we anticipate significant interest from potential partners who wish to be associated with the England cricket teams."
Perera will ensure a new sponsor is apposite for English cricket, "The brand has to have stature commensurate with the England team," he told Marketing Magazine. "Some of the football deals wouldn't be appropriate."
Brands that sit comfortably alongside English cricket include investment bank Investec, who added to their sponsorship of the Derby, Tottenham Hotspur and England Women's hockey with a 10-year deal for the title rights to Test matches, worth a reported £50 million, signed in November 2011 and earlier that year, Buxton Water renewed their sponsorship until the end of 2013.