Sky News has learnt that the Premier League is in talks with its shareholders, the 20 clubs, about moving to a ‘partnership model’ which would involve alliances with a handful of brands in different industries.
The idea, which is at an early stage, would signal an evolution of one of the most lucrative commercial deals in British sport.
Barclays has held the title sponsorship rights to the Premier League since 2001, when it took over from Carling, the lager brand.
Some leading clubs are said to favour abandoning the existing structure because they believe they could earn more money from a series of partnership deals.
According to Yahoo Finance, sources indicated that the Premier League was continuing to discuss title sponsorship opportunities with companies including Diageo , which has been examining a tie-up with its Guinness brand.
A decision is likely in the next few months, with Premier league sources suggesting that strong competition for a deal meant that a title sponsorship remained the likeliest outcome.
In a memo to staff on Thursday, Barclays said that it would not renew its £40m-a-year agreement:
“Since we took on the sponsorship under the Barclaycard brand in 2001 the Premier League’s popularity has grown exponentially around the world.
“The sponsorship has been very successful for Barclays, but having carefully considered whether it is the right partnership for us given where we are as a business and a brand today, we have concluded the time is right to pass the baton on.
“The core consideration informing this decision was the balance between the benefit to Barclays and our brand versus the likely investment required to carry on.
A source close to Diageo said it remained interested in a deal, while other potential sponsors, including a major automotive company, are also in talks.
The news that the League may decide to operate without a title sponsor comes six weeks after it signed a record-breaking £5.1bn live broadcast rights deal with companies including Sky plc, the owner of Sky News. A Premier League spokesman declined to comment. [Source: Yahoo Finance UK]