UK Super League rugby league mocked for Papa John’s deal worth nothing

In a sign of how advertising crunch for sporting teams and organisations around the world, it’s been revealed that the English top-flight rugby league competition, the Super League, has sold advertising space for free pizza.

Last week, the competition, which is seen as arguably the second best rugby league competition in the world behind Australia’s NRL, trumpeted their new deal with American pizza chain Papa John’s.

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The company has locations in 45 countries around the world, including the UK, but arguably got the best deal a company could ever imagine.

The Super League revealed the partnership last week in a release that said Papa John’s would “providing players with post-match food at games played behind closed doors”.

But according to League Express, the deal is worth no money to the league, with the pizza in exchange for touchline advertising and acknowledgment at the start of the competition’s online video content.

While the deal is only for the remainder of the season, League Express believes the competition is hoping for a more lucrative deal next season.

Israel Folau is up for some free pizza.Source:Getty Images

But you just know it’s a tough climate for major sporting competitions are giving away sponsorship and advertising for next to free.

UK football journalist John Davidson tweeted: “A sponsorship deal where you get no money but free pizza instead. If it wasn‘t so sad it would be funny.”

Andrew Canavan, director of Whitehaven RLFC who play in the second tier competition, added that it comes after the 2012 deal where the league turned down Betfair for aviation and energy company Stobart Group.

Reportedly it as a no cash deal but had the Super League advertising on their fleet of trucks. The deal lasted just one year.

At the time, the advertising was believed to be worth $A4.5m a season and the league said the deal was “too good to turn down”.

“What was worse about this deal was they turned down a gambling company (betfair iirc) saying they didn’t want to be involved with that industry. Since then we have not 1 but 3 betting company commercial partners,” Canavan said.

The major sponsor of the game is currently Betfred.

The Super League doesn’t have as many qualms about being sponsored by a betting agency now.Source:Getty Images

Fans were not happy with the deal.

One tweeted: “That Super League deal with Papa John‘s is nothing short of abysmal. It completely sums up how we have the wrong people in charge at the top of the game. An elite comp should not be handing out sponsorship deals with no money coming in”

Super League have announced a new deal with Papa John’s – no figures mentioned/hinted at, but the teams get free pizza.

Our title sponsorship appears to pay us in the region of 10% of what RU gets for their equivalent comp.

Ever feel like we’re being sold short?#rugbyleague pic.twitter.com/DB6A9gxHeE

Chief Commercial Officer Rhodri Jones said when the deal was revealed that it was “important to be able to provide our players with the chance to refuel after a tough game”.

“As we have seen since the restart, Betfred Super League games are getting faster and harder and I know the players are grateful when they see so many pizzas to choose from after a tough 80 minutes,” he said.

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