Brand partners are quickly distancing themselves from Cricket Australia, and players Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, as the commercial toll of the ball-tampering scandal becomes clearer.
First LG opted to part ways with David Warner, then Asics ended its partnerships with Warner and Cameron Bancroft, then Sanitarium cut ties with Steve Smith, and now wealth-management firm Magellan has torn up its three-year contract with Cricket Australia.
This is the commercial fallout from the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa that has resulted in Smith and Warner being suspended from national and international cricket for 12 months, and Bancroft receiving a nine-month ban.
Magellan reportedly paid $20 million to be the naming rights sponsor for the Australian men’s domestic cricket series, and having only signed on in August 2017, it was rewarded with a highly successful Ashes campaign over the summer.
But fast-forward just three months and “Sandpapergate” has cracked the golden egg.
As the CEO of the fund manager explains, companies can’t afford to be associated with a team that conspires to cheat.
“A conspiracy by the leadership of the Australian Men’s Test Cricket Team which broke the rules with a clear intention to gain an unfair advantage during the third test in South Africa goes to the heart of integrity,” Hamish Douglass said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.
“We were delighted with the recent Magellan Ashes Series sponsorship and it is with a heavy heart that we have to end our partnership in these circumstances.”
With Warner being identified as the key architect behind the ball-tampering, it would be a miracle if any of his other sponsors stood by him. The list, according to his website, also includes Gray Nicholls, Nine, Toyota, Nestle’s Milo and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. However ABC News reports Milo’s affiliation with Warner came to an end last year.
Even before the 31-year-old and Smith were banished from the elite game for a year, celebrity agent Max Markson tipped they would be dumped by all of their brand partners.
“They’ll lose every single one of their contracts — nobody will stand by them,” Markson said.
He went on to explain that most sponsorship contracts contain a morals clause, which would cover what transpired in Cape Town.
There is some good news for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, as it redirected its sponsorship dollars last year from the men’s to the women’s game, as well as Indigenous, all-abilities and grassroots cricket.
But it also retained Smith as an ambassador, and is considering its options.
“We are disappointed about the events that have emerged from the third Test in South Africa and have asked for a full explanation from Cricket Australia following the conclusion of its investigation into this affair,” a CBA spokesman said.
Cricket Australia is likely to take a further hit, as it is in the process of re-negotiating broadcast rights with free-to-air and Pay TV providers.
And with the Nine Network today snapping up the rights to the summer of tennis from 2020 to 2024 for $300 million, cricket’s long-time broadcaster may choose not to pursue at least some of the rights packages now on the market.