Supermarket chain pulls out from four-year partnership two years early

A four-year sponsorship deal between British Athletics and Sainsbury’s has been cut short, leaving the federation with one fewer core partner less than a year out from the Rio Games and two years ahead of a World Championships on home soil.

The supermarket chain was named as title sponsor of major British Athletics events at the start of 2014, which extended an existing partnership, with the deal involving British Athletics’ outdoor and indoor events series as well as para-athletics at both elite and grassroots level.

The deal had been due to run until 2017, but a mid-point break clause has seen Sainsbuy’s pull out two years ahead of that.

The sponsorship is officially set to end from October.

The news follows a number of serious allegations which have been made within the sport, but the supermarket said the decision had not been connected to that and was made as part of a “strategic review” last year.

“Sainsbury’s has been a proud supporter of British Athletics since 2013 following our sponsorship of the London 2012 Paralympic Games,” read a statement from the retailer.

“We remain committed to inspiring and enabling healthy lifestyles for all through our partnership with the British Paralympic Association, and through our Active Kids programme.

“The decision was made as part of our strategic review last year.

“We wish British Athletics all the best with their future events programme.”

Aviva had previously been title sponsor but 2013 marked a change at British Athletics with various companies coming on board to sponsor separate areas. At the time of Sainsbury’s being named as major events partner, BBC, Nike and The National Lottery were other core partners. MG and Polar are also among the current sponsors.

A British Athletics statement read in part: “British Athletics would like to thank Sainsbury’s for their support of our major event series since 2013.

“With their help, we are proud to have established the Anniversary Games as one of the country’s must-see events of the summer sporting calendar.”