Budweiser, the US beer brand reportedly frontrunner for the title sponsorship of the UK’s Premier League [WAMN: 22-Jan-01], has thrown down its cards after claiming that it not had even sat at the table for the final game. Its withdrawal follows that of the Bass-owned Carling lager brand.

According to Anheuser-Busch Europe’s marketing director Kerry Bebe: “"Budweiser, the official beer sponsor of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, is committed to supporting football on a global scale. Contrary to rumours and speculation we were not involved in the final bidding process for Premier League sponsorship,” he insisted.

“[Although}the Premier League is an outstanding sports property … we feel it is important to focus our energies and activities into making the upcoming FIFA World Cup the best ever for fans across the world."

Premier League spoke Phillip French played down the walk-outs by Bud and Carling, claiming that a “huge number” of potential sponsors were jostling for the pricey privilege of sponsoring the League for four years – reportedly almost double the £27 million ($40m) paid by Carling in 1997.

Hyped French: "Since Carling's unilateral decision to withdraw from negotiations, we have even more interest … we are duty bound to explore all that interest and get the best deal for the company … just as soon as our negotiating team have decided what is the best offer on the table."

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)