RUGBY’S CELTIC LEAGUE will this week begin the search for a new sponsor, after current sponsors Magners confirmed their intention not to renew their current deal.
Magners, the overseas branding of the Clonmel-based Bulmers cider brand, has been the league’s title sponsor since 2006, but today’s Sunday Times reports confirmation from its parent company C&C that the sponsorship would not be renewed.
“Given the brand direction of Magners, the group wants to look at other opportunities and is doing so,” a spokesman said.
One of the reasons that the sponsorship might not be being pursued any further is the branding problems faced within Ireland, where the Magners name is not used; the cider is branded as Bulmers within the Republic, but as Magners abroad.
As a result, given the dominance of Irish sides in the competition – with Munster, Leinster and Ulster currently occupying the top three spots in the league table – the brand has a limited marketing appeal.
The league has survived turbulent financial times in the past; now in its tenth season, the league has survived the collapse of Setanta Sports, which held exclusive airing rights in Scotland and both sides of the Irish border.
It has also had to undergo significant internal restructuring in the past; in its third season in 2003, the league saw the number of participating clubs fall significantly, when the Welsh Rugby Union restructured the club scene in the country to form five new provincial-style sides.
The expansion of the league this season to include Italian teams, however, means that the league could now pursue a title sponsor from that country; the Sunday Times suggests that Fiat could be one of the companies considering taking on the deal.