Report: Hyundai ready to exit as A-League title sponsor in June

Report: Hyundai ready to exit as A-League title sponsor in June
Australian soccer’s governing body, Football Federation Australia (FFA), is bracing itself for car manufacturer Hyundai to become the latest major sponsor to opt out of renewing commercial relations, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The FFA and Hyundai have been partners for the last 15 years, with the manufacturer putting its name to the A-League, the men’s top-flight competition, in a deal currently worth approximately AUD$5 million (US$3.4 million) per season. The South Korean brand’s latest contract also covers the W-League, the female equivalent, as well as the Socceroos and Matildas national teams.

The FFA is reportedly keen on negotiating an extension with its biggest backer, but it is looking increasingly likely it will have to start searching for a new headline partner, with Hyundai ready to walk away when its deal expires in four months’ time.

The main factors behind the company’s withdrawal are said to be declining public interest in the A-League and poor financial results in the motor vehicle industry. Hyundai is also apparently unhappy with the poor publicity surrounding FFA’s sacking of former Matildas manager Alen Stajcic last year, which led to legal action and resulted in the soccer body reaching a financial settlement with its former employee.  

However, the Sydney Morning Herald adds a new deal is not totally dead yet, with the company potentially prepared to sign on for another year until June 2021. The FFA are hoping to at least secure this short-term agreement, giving them more breathing space to bring in another naming rights partner without suffering a hefty financial hit. It would also ensure the A-League will not join the FFA Cup and National Premier Leagues in having no title partners.

“Conversations are currently ongoing between Hyundai and Football Federation Australia around Hyundai’s naming rights partnership with the game,” said Bill Thomas, Hyundai's Director of Marketing.

“Currently we are not in a position to go into detail about these discussions but we will be announcing our plans at the appropriate time.”

The report adds that FFA is also under pressure from it broadcast partner Fox Sports, who are eager for the organisation to retain Hyundai.

Additionally, clubs in the A-League have apparently already been briefed about Hyundai’s exit and have been told to refrain from including the brand’s logo on jersey designs for next season due to the uncertainty.

If Hyundai does walk away, it will be the latest brand out of the Australian soccer exit door. Most recently, Aldi chose not to extend its partnership with FFA, joining the likes of Caltex and National Australia Bank.

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