The English Football League (EFL) has agreed a three-year deal with Carabao, making the Thai energy drinks brand the new title sponsor of the EFL Cup and providing the league with a platform to reach new audiences in Southeast Asia.
The exclusive partnership will run until 2020 and will see the competition become known as the ‘Carabao Cup’ from the start of the 2017/18 season.
As the official title sponsor and EFL partner Carabao will benefit from a series of domestic and international commercial rights that will form a major part of the brand’s growth strategy in targeted markets at home and abroad.
Carabao’s marketing around the competition will see its brand colours adorn the ribbons of the trophy, the match ball, perimeter boards at every match across all stadiums and backdrops for every pre and post-match interview.
“This is a significant agreement for both parties and I’m delighted to welcome Carabao on board as an official title sponsor of the EFL Cup,” said EFL chief executive, Shaun Harvey.
“We opted to take our time in bringing this matter to a successful conclusion and feel we have now secured the best outcome possible for the EFL and the clubs we represent. Of course, it was imperative the deal met Carabao’s requirements and the inventory has been designed to ensure it complements their existing and future marketing strategies.
“As a well-established brand in football, Carabao is a perfect fit for the EFL and I have no doubt that throughout its duration, this partnership will prove mutually beneficial as we collectively look to boost our profile and exposure in local and international markets.”
Pairoj Piempongsant, chairman of Intercarabao, added: “The EFL Cup embodies the very essence of British football consciousness. All 92 clubs in the country competing in the first major cup competition of the season, culminating in the final at Wembley.
"The EFL Carabao partnership represents a unique platform to expand the Carabao brand nationally and globally; and thus leveraging the universal “fighting spirit” of football with a truly powerful global platform that will bring new awareness to the EFL internationally, while also establishing Carabao as a major player in the global energy drinks market.”
Commenting on the new title sponsor, Jim Dowling, managing director of HSE Cake pointed out that the frequency with which the title sponsor has changed has undoubtedly chipped away at the distinctiveness of the competition for football fans but maintained that it remains a “solid property for the right partner”.
“It touches football fans in towns and cities up across the country, and it pulls in plenty of eyeballs and interest once we get to Wembley," said Dowling.
He added that while the competition lacks the glamour of the Premier League or FA Cup it remains a “decent platform for a brand seeking to engage with people in those communities through nine months of the year”.
“Carabao’s brand challenge is to get beyond its reputation as a poor man’s Red Bull. The League Cup has many positive attributes, but it might not be the best property to deliver on this strategy.”
The title sponsorship follows on from a string of other high-profile football partnerships for the brand which has made a major push into the English football market recently. It recently announced a new three-year principal partnership deal with Sky Bet Championship club Reading, which includes home and away kit sponsorship. Carabao also has a presence in the Premier League through its principal commercial sponsor with Chelsea.
The deal will further boost the EFL's efforts to strengthen the commercial clout of its 72 clubs, something which league bosses have been working towards by partnering with the likes of IntechnologyWiFi to strengthen clubs' in-stadia connectivity.
Part of this strategy saw the EFL award Realise and NeuLion the contract to design and develop its new digital platforms.