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Warriors Allowed To Keep Vodafone Sponsorship

T
he New Zealand Warriors will now be allowed to retain their sponsorship with Vodafone after NRL naming rights partner, Telstra, reversed its decision to force out the club sponsor.

Earlier in the week, the NRL enacted an exclusivity clause in an effort to strengthen its deal with Telstra, that would mean no other telecommunications companies would be allowed to sponsor any NRL clubs.

This would have meant the Warriors would miss out on at least $1 million per season for the next two years, having to end their 22-year-long partnership with Vodafone at the end of the 2020 NRL season.

Telstra announced on Twitter it will allow the Warriors to continue and extend their partnership with Vodafone, following public outrage at the decision that would have put the club in an ‘awkward’ financial situation.

“Our sporting clubs are feeling the pinch right now and many, like the Warriors, have stepped up to support their fans and the game,” the Telstra statement on Twitter said.

“While our naming rights sponsorship is a big investment from us in the game and should be protected in the long term, now is not the time to be taking money out of the sport.

“Just as we’ve extended our sponsorships that were due to expire for 12 months to support our partners, the Warriors have our support to extend their existing sponsorship too,” the statement read.

Warriors CEO, Cameron George, told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking Breakfast the club and Vodafone are very relieved they are allowed to continue their long-standing partnership.

“Very much so relieved, we appreciate both the NRL and Telstra for their review of the situation,” George said.

“It’s been on and off the table for a little while… this year it really escalated because our home games were in Australia.

“We had to remove Vodafone signage and goal post padding.

“It just all came to a head.

“We got a letter last week… today we’re in a vastly different situation but one we’re very comfortable and happy with.

“We’ve got two years to go with Vodafone and we’ll enjoy that time.

“Telstra’s contract with the NRL expires at the same… we’ll just wait and see what happens with their partnership,” he said, when asked about the long-term hopes of the partnership going forward.

Vodafone head of external affairs, Richard Llewellyn, told The Herald Vodafone is still interested in how the NRL will deal with the commercial conflict.

“Kudos to the NRL and Telstra for doing what is right for the game,” Llewellyn said.

“And we are very pleased for the Warriors and their fans.

“It’s awesome.

“We don’t want to comment too much before we have seen all the details.

“But we’ll definitely see our contract through until the end of 2022,” he said.

Telstra has reportedly held the right to enact the exclusivity clause since 2015, but the Warriors being forced to move to Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic had reportedly made the conflict more pressing and urgent.

Before Telstra reversed their decision to remove Vodafone as a sponsor of the Warriors, NRL acting CEO, Andrew Abdo, told Channel Nine Vodafone would not be interested in reaching a new partnership with the Warriors that would be anything less than naming rights.

“We have been working with Warriors on managing the inherent conflict that exists with their club sponsor and the competing naming rights sponsor,” Abdo said.

“Unfortunately, the Warriors and Vodafone have not been able to come up with a mutually beneficial solution,” he said, hinting Vodafone would have walked away from the club completely if the decision was not reversed.