West Brom shirt sponsor threatens to walk away if Nicolas Anelka plays in wake of 'quenelle' row


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The Independent Football

West Bromwich Albion's shirt sponsor, property search website Zoopla, has reportedly threatened to cancel its deal with the club over Nicolas Anelka's controversial "quenelle" goal celebration.

Marketing Week magazine claimed sources close to the company, which is co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, had informed Albion that should Anelka play against Everton on Monday night then it would cancel the shirt deal with immediate effect.

The magazine also cites sources at the club saying that Albion will not allow any sponsor to make pronouncements on team selection and is already lining up alternative commercial partners should Zoopla, which paid Albion £3m in 2012 to carry its logo on their shirt, follow through with the threat.

A spokesman for the club said: "West Bromwich Albion will be making no further comment until the Football Association has concluded its investigation, and the club its own internal enquiry, into the matter."

Richard Garlick, Albion's sporting and technical director, had earlier urged the Football Association to deliver a swift resolution to the investigation into Anelka's controversial salute. With the threat of a ban hanging over the striker for his celebration during the match at West Ham on 28 December, Albion want the matter decided quickly to give them time to seek a possible replacement for the Frenchman before the transfer window closes.

Garlick said: "It would help everybody for that investigation to be over as soon as possible. The FA have given their statement about how quickly they hope to conclude that."

As reported by The Independent on Thursday, Jewish organisations are becoming increasingly frustrated by the FA's silence on Anelka's actions.

Leading Jewish group the Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors anti-Semitism and security matters, said: "There is growing frustration and incomprehension at how long this is taking. The CST would like the FA to be more open about the specifics of their investigation, wanting a clear explanation of the process and the timescale. The lack of transparency and the lack of an explanation is not helping."

The FA, which is seeking advice on the complexities of the case from an "appointed expert", said earlier this week that it would make no further comment on the matter until Monday at the earliest.