WEDNESDAY 17 MAR 2010 1:02 AM


In the final months of Sir Brian Mawhinney's tenure, the retiring chairman of the Football League announced that npower have  signed a three year £21million sponsorship deal.

The sponsorship package, £1m a year more than outgoing sponsor Coca Cola, also sees npower provide each of the League's 72 clubs a grant for bespoke community initiatives in their local area.

In a move unique for such corporate sponsorship arrangements, npower will also use their sponsorship to directly sell to football fans to persuade them to switch their gas or electricity supply.

According to Volker Beckers, CEO of npower, "The sponsorship of The Football League will provide us with a cost-effective means of raising awareness of the range of services we now offer customers, such  as npower hometeam, our boiler servicing and installation division. It's also a perfect platform for  putting something back into the community through sport in the UK."

The announcement from npower comes shortly after rival utility firm E.On announced they will not be renewing their sponsorship of the FA cup. E.On's involvement was more geared to  awareness-raising than product sales and is widely considered to have been successful. Nigel Currie, director of sports marketing agency Brand Rapport, worked with E.ON on the FA tie up. “E.ON was a new brand," he said " The objective was to establish the name and create a high level of awareness. Sport sponsorship is a fantastic medium for creating high levels of awareness without getting into much 'detail about the brand.'"

Pippa Collet, the managing director of sponsorship firm Sponsorship Consulting agreed that npower's approach was different. "This leverages a relationship with 72 clubs and numerous fans with a clear line of sight between the sponsorship and revenue generation," she said. "It allows npower to campaign for most of the year over a three year period,  It also differentiates them strongly from their British Gas (Swimming) and edf (Olympics) competitors.  The interesting question is what e.on’s response will be when they leave the FA Cup behind at the end of this season."