Coca-Cola is the latest global giant to pull out of the bidding to become the next sponsor of England’s most prestigious soccer competition, the Premier League. Coke follows in the retreating footsteps of incumbent sponsor, British lager brand Carling, Budweiser and Pepsi-Cola.

Said Coke’s UK director of communications Andrew Coker: “Coca-Cola has a long history of supporting sport but we looked at the Premiership and decided the valuation was not right for us” [Coke-speak for “the price was astronomic!”]

The League, meantime, has shrouded the auction in a veil of secrecy that would do credit to the CIA or MI6. The identity of the remaining bidders remains a mystery and source of media speculation. However, among those still said to be slapping wads of notes on the table are electronic giants Sony and Siemens, UK bank NatWest and mobile communications colossus Vodafone.

The current £36m four-year deal with Carling expires at the end of the current soccer season. Insiders say that this figure is small change compared with today’s minimum asking price.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)