In a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, the FFA is set to lose one of its longest-serving sponsors in June.
Hyundai has been the A-League’s major sponsor since the very beginning in 2004. Should they cease sponsorship of the A-League, it would be the end of an era.
According to the report from SMH, Hyundai’s main reasoning is that they feel the interest in the A-League is steadily declining combined with poor revenue in their own market.
Hyundai is also reportedly still at odds with the FFA regarding the unceremonious sacking of former Matildas’ coach Alen Stajcic. Stajcic’s dumping still leaves a sour taste in many people’s mouths, even Hyundai.
Should Hyundai can its sponsorship with the A-League, it will unfortunately join a number of other former sponsors who, in recent times also decided to walk out the door on their partnerships.
“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.”
Hypothetically, if Hyundai were no longer sponsors for the A-League, what would happen?
The A-League wouldn’t be the first major competition in Australia to not have title partners. The NPL competitions across the country have used sponsors in recent times such as PS4, but do not have one at the time of writing this.
Perhaps the most well-known competition in Australia without a title partner is the FFA Cup.
Back in 2017, Westfield, who were the major sponsors for the knockout tournament since its formation in 2014, decided to withdraw their sponsorship of the Cup.
The Cup has run well without major sponsorship in the two and a half years since Westfield departed, but could the A-League enjoy such success without a title partner like Hyundai?
The report from SMH says that the deal isn’t completely dead in the water, but that any talks to further the sponsorship are suggesting any deal won’t run past 2021 anyway.
The FFA, by convincing Hyundai to stay on for one extra year, is likely looking to bide some time whilst they find another title partner.
Hyundai also covers the W-League, which would mean any sponsorship withdrawal from the South Korean manufacturer would have a significant impact on the women’s game too.
The writing seems to be on the wall for the FFA and this deal, despite the potential for Hyundai to stay on for one more year.
Sponsors can come and go in the sporting industry. We see it all the time with sporting brands such as Adidas, Puma and Nike. Premier League club Arsenal used Adidas during their early Premier League days before moving to Puma.
Now, they’re back with Adidas. So companies don’t seem to mind where they sponsor, so long as they get paid well for it.
Hyundai’s relationship with the FFA and the A-League however was about more than money.
Hyundai gained A+ exposure over 15 years with the A-League. Played a serious role in building brand legitimacy as the company transitioned from a bit player into a power in the Aus market.
The league’s next major partner has a great opportunity to reap similarly strong rewards.
— Sebastian Hassett (@sebth) February 4, 2020
It will be fascinating to see who jumps on as the next title partner for the A-League whenever Hyundai decide that their time is up.
From all of us here at Soccerscene, we thank the South Korean car manufacturer for all their support since 2004 because arguably, the league wouldn’t be where it is today without them.
Whoever steps up in their place will not have just a great chance to make waves in the industry, but there will also be a lot of pressure to reach the same level Hyundai got to.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Are you happy for a fresh start without Hyundai? Or are you sad to see them go after nearly 16 years of incredible support?
Get involved in the conversation on Twitter @Soccersceneau