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Sony Ericsson extends WTA deal through 2012

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Originally published on: 10/03/10 10:55

The WTA Tour and Sony Ericsson have agreed a three-year, cut-price sponsorship extension that will see the corporation’s name dropped from the sporting body’s title.

The new deal extends the women’s game’s relationship with the mobile phone giant through to the end of the 2012 season, but the reported $27-million relationship marks a reduction in revenue on the original six-year, $88-million deal struck in 2005 that was set to expire at the end of the season.

As part of the new contract, the company loses its identity in the tour’s official title. The circuit will be renamed the WTA Tour later this year.

“It’s a non-title deal, but they remain the tour’s exclusive lead, global partner. No one will come in at a higher level than Sony Ericsson. That’s our commitment to them,” WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said.

“Sony Ericsson has been one of the best sponsors in the history of women’s tennis – and tennis in general,” she added. “This new agreement provides our organisation and our members with financial stability, which has been a priority as we work through this ever-challenging global economy.”

The season-ending WTA Championships in Doha, and from next year in Istanbul, will also drop the Sony Ericsson prefix. Allaster said that while she is not intent on chasing a title sponsor for the tour itself, she will “get into the market very quickly for a partner” for the end-of-season play-offs.

Financial terms of the extension have not yet been formally announced, but Allaster said the “average net profit” is “not too dissimilar” from the original deal, which was considered a landmark moment for both tennis and women’s sport.

But with the global recession impacting heavily on the mobile phone manufacturer, the announcement of a new deal, regardless of the short nature and expected drop in income for the Tour, was welcomed by Allaster.

“There’s no question it’s a different period of time – the deal has been restructured,” she said. “It’s a very good financial deal for the WTA Tour. What we get out of it is financial stability in 2011 and 2012.”

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