The details of the SPFL’s agreement with league title sponsor cinch and Newco, which ends the legal dispute between league and club, have not been revealed, but what has been announced is not a good look for the governing body.
Newco, whose board is chaired by a car retailer, refused to display cinch branding, citing an existing deal with their chairman’s firm. The new deal permits Newco to opt out of requirements to display cinch logos, which will remain in place for other clubs.
An SPFL statement confirmed Newco “are no longer required to participate by providing the sponsorship inventory that they have so far not provided, whilst, crucially, the overall income to Scottish football is expected to remain materially unchanged.” Newco claimed the agreement is a “full vindication of our stance”.
It seems unlikely that other clubs would be required to display cinch inventory that Newco are excused from, without a corresponding reduction in payment to Newco. Other clubs have vehicle sponsorships, including Celtic’s deal with Intelligent Car Leasing, without being permitted to drop the cinch logos.
SPFL chief exec, Neil Doncaster, may be the ultimate pragmatist, cutting a deal that costs no club other than Newco, but league rules and commercial deals should be sufficiently robust to prevent tawdry challenges like this. Newco’s statement reiterated their desire to force Doncaster out of the league, citing their “wide-ranging concerns regarding the corporate governance of the SPFL.” I suspect Doncaster retains sufficient backing from other clubs to continue to hold the line against Newco.