The West

Footy in $1m sponsorship hit
Money maker: Subiaco Oval naming rights. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

The WA Football Commission is facing a funding black hole of almost $1 million a year from next season as Patersons is yet to commit to continuing as naming- rights sponsor at Subiaco Oval and AAMI ends its five-year association with the WAFL.

National insurer AAMI yesterday confirmed it would not renew as sponsor of the WAFL once the existing deal finished at the end of this season.

AAMI has been the league's naming-rights sponsor since 2010 in a deal worth about $300,000 a year to the WAFC.

The company chose not to exercise an option in the contract allowing it to extend the sponsorship for a further two years.

The WAFC is also facing a dilemma over sponsorship arrangements for Subiaco Oval. Patersons is believed to be willing to pay for the naming rights for only the next three years at about a third of the original cost.

It is understood the financial services firm will pay no more than $300,000 a year to have its name attached to the ground for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons.

The original deal struck in 2010 was worth $3.5 million over four years.

A WAFC spokesman said the renewal process had started and that conversations had been "positive".

The commission has until December 31 to finalise negotiations, but will be left in a tenuous financial position if Patersons pulls out of a new deal.

The venue has three more seasons of AFL matches before the new $1.2 billion stadium at Burs- wood is ready for the start of the 2018 season.

The commission is already spending more than $1 million a year keeping Patersons Stadium safe for spectators and staff, making the ageing ground a difficult sell to other sponsors.

Finance company Homeloans Ltd was among other corporate companies which showed an interest in buying the naming rights in 2010, but it is no longer interested.

Patersons declined to comment when contacted by _The West Australian _yesterday.

The WAFC said it was in discussions with other potential sponsors to take over the WAFL naming rights but was yet to secure a deal.

AAMI's head of sponsorship John Bennetts said the company had not been disappointed by the partnership, saying it had viewed the WAFL as the "perfect vehicle" to launch its brand in the WA market.

"The key reason for the departure is that now the AAMI brand is entering a phase of consolidation in the WA market, it is time to review our sponsorship activity in line with the overall AAMI brand portfolio strategy," Bennetts said.

Doubts over sponsorship security come at a time when funding arrangements for the Burswood stadium are still to be finalised.

Eighty per cent of the WAFC's funding is generated from its management of Patersons Stadium, but the commission will not find out until next year whether it will run WA's new football venue.

The West Australian

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