The NHL and Molson Coors Canada made headlines this past February when a deal was announced that would make Molson the league’s official beer sponsor. By most accounts it would have been the most lucrative sponsorship deal in NHL history, but Labatt stepped in with accusations that the new partnership violated an agreement between the league and Labatt that were already in place.
On Friday, Judge Frank Newbould of the Ontario Supreme Court ruled in favour of Labatt, thus quashing the $375-million deal the NHL had brokered with Molson Coors Canada. The beer maker and the NHL announced on Monday that they plan to appeal the court ruling.
Via The Canadian Press:
In a news release Monday, Molson Coors president and CEO Dave Perkson said the company was disappointed with Judge Newbould’s ruling “given we entered into negotiations with the NHL in good faith.”
“While Friday’s ruling was an unfortunate surprise, we remain committed to doing all we can to keep this sponsorship agreement in place with the NHL.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league disagreed with the court’s reasoning and decision and planned to “pursue an appeal of the ruling on an expedited basis.”
Meanwhile, Molson Coors Canada and its parent brand Anheuser-Busch are rather pleased with the Ontario court ruling:
“We are pleased that Budweiser’s sponsorship of the NHL will continue,” Charlie Angelakos, Labatt’s vice-president of corporate affairs, said in a release after Friday’s court ruling.
“Budweiser and hockey are a natural fit. We look forward to a very productive relationship with the league through the 2013-14 season and are actively looking for opportunities on a team and grass-roots level to reinforce that connection.”
Anheuser-Busch is also the sponsor for 22 of the 24 NHL teams based in the United States.
The NHL’s resistance to the court ruling is understandable given the lofty financial benefits they could be forced to pass up, but to try and pull the rug out from underneath an existing deal to do so is rather bush league, though. As for the fans, at least the beer swilling set, they just want to be ensured that that the taps will flow for the 2011-12 season. Which we’re pretty sure will, regardless of which major brand has their logo plastered around arenas.
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