Budweiser Drives Carling Out of Premier League Auction

22 January 2001

Bass-owned lager brand Carling has pulled out of negotiations to renew its soccer sponsorship of England’s Premier League due, it is believed, to a substantial price hike by the latter.

Sponsor of the competition since its inception in 1992, Carling refused to compete with US beer brand Budweiser in a poker game where the stakes had become increasingly high. Four years back, Carling paid £27 million ($40m) for the title sponsorship; renewal this time round would have cost it nearly double that figure.

The price has steadily risen over the years as the annual footballfest attracted an increasingly large global audience – a factor of limited value to Carling, which is predominantly a UK brand. Budweiser, although a minority brand in Britain, is strong globally. But although now the sponsorship frontrunner, Bud does not hold all the cards as Pepsi and Coca-Cola have both joined it at the table.

The Carling deal fell apart at a meeting last Thursday, when the chairmen of the twenty soccer clubs comprising the League failed to agree on whether to accept the brand’s offer. Said Bass marketing director Mark Hunter: “We can't let this indecision affect other plans for Carling. This is why we are moving forward with other initiatives.”

News source: Financial Times