The financial fallout from England's embarrassing World Cup is set to see them lose their flagship sponsor amid claims that the Football Association face an immediate struggle to attract blue-riband backers given the combination of the team's failure in South Africa and the current financial climate.
Nationwide's deal runs out at the end of this month – most of the national side's sponsorship deals are done on a four-yearly cycle to coincide with World Cup finals – and the building society says that it is "unlikely to be renewed." The company had offered the FA a £20m four-year deal ahead of the tournament, but that was rejected as the governing body believed they could do better.
It follows the downgrading of National Express's sponsorship from "supporter" to "supplier" and adds to the FA's financial concerns with the burden of Wembley and a likely reduction in value of its broadcasting contract to come.
The decision not to accept Nationwide's original offer was an "extensive error" according to one leading international brand consultant. "The relationship the fans have with England, and the FA, has been damaged by the World Cup," said Graham Hales, the London CEO of Interbrand. "The Nationwide brand risks looking out of touch if it is based around a football team we are out of love with at the moment.
"The FA face a difficult time right now in producing value for sponsors' brands. The appeal of the national side is as bad as in recent memory."