PARTNERSHIP: Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund, left, SAB head of sponsorship Rob Fleming, Safa CE Robin Petersen and SAB executive director: corporate affairs and transformation, Vincent Maphai at the sponsorship announcement in Johannesburg yesterday. Picture: ARNOLD PRONTO

SOUTH African Breweries (SAB) and its Castle Lager brand yesterday announced it had extended its sponsorship of Bafana Bafana by five years, worth about R100m.

This deal comes as both the Department of Social Development and Department of Health want to pass legislation that would in effect prohibit the advertising and promotion of alcoholic products.

SAB media relations manager Benedict Maaga told Business Day the brewer had an assurance from the government that the liquor industry would be consulted before any changes to legislation.

"SAB will always comply with the laws of our country and there is currently no prohibition on the responsible advertising of alcoholic beverages or sports sponsorships by liquor companies," Maaga said.

The brewer said it renewed its 20-year partnership with Bafana to assist with preparations for the national football team ahead of the 2013 African Nations Cup, which SA is hosting, and the 2014 Fifa Soccer World Cup in Brazil.

"Over the last 20 years we have stood by them during their highs and lows and look forward to making a meaningful contribution as they re-establish themselves at the top of African football, starting with the 2013 African Cup of Nations," said SAB executive director: corporate affairs and transformation, Vincent Maphai.

However, the new deal is for significantly less than the R250m which went into Safa's coffers over the past five-year period.

Safa CE Robin Petersen elaborated by saying the latest deal did not include the sponsorship of the third division, nor the incentives for international games.

"We decided on a package, and this time it doesn't include sponsorship of the Castle regional league (third division), which will be a separate deal," Peterson said.

"There are also sponsorship-based incentives that are in place as well, and also we needed to make some space for two more partners to come on board."

SAB head of sponsorship Rob Fleming said the company was always going to renew its ties with Safa and "we are glad the sponsorship has continued for another five years".

"We have set targets as part of the deal, where there is a basic fee in the contract," Fleming said. "And there will be additional perks should the team perform well against top teams or progress to major tournaments."

Fleming acknowledged that the television deal with the national broadcaster influenced SAB's continued partnership with Safa.

Zane Dangor, special adviser to the minister of social development, said he was not that surprised by the SAB deal. "The legislation dealing with alcohol sponsorships will only be tabled to Cabinet at the end of this month, so there is nothing (problematic) legally with the SAB deal."

Dangor said the department did have concerns about the effect such sponsorships would have on its efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol in the country. "When sports teams become ambassadors for liquor products, it could lead to young people continuing to associate drinking with sport and the prestige of their sports heroes."

He said the proposed legislation would probably have to make exceptions for existing agreements.

"Depending on the longevity of the contracts, if it's 20 years . you would probably have government intervention." He said it was difficult to intervene with deals before legislation was passed as the legislation could not be retrospective.

Safa president Kirsten Nematandani was thankful to the brewery for its continued support. "For any national team to do well on the international stage, there is need for financial backing, and we are very grateful to Castle Lager for sticking with Bafana Bafana through thick and thin."

With Sapa

downingr@bdfm.co.za