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Auckland Nines, Melbourne Stars hit by collapse of main sponsor

The National Rugby League’s Auckland Nines competition and Australian Big Bash League cricket franchise the Melbourne Stars have been hit by the collapse of main sponsor, electronics retailer Dick Smith.

The company had been the title sponsor of the Auckland Nines tournament and the principal partner of Twenty20 team the Stars but announced today (Tuesday) that it had entered into administration.

Dick Smith had sponsored the Auckland Nines since the tournament’s inception in 2014 and was three years into a five-year deal. The next edition of the event, which takes place annually in Auckland, New Zealand before the start of the NRL season, will be held over the weekend of February 6-7.

Tournament organisers have confirmed that the event will go ahead as planned. “It doesn’t have any impact on us in terms of the delivery of the Nines on Waitangi weekend,” Martin Snedden, chief executive at Duco Events, which runs the tournament, said, according to the Stuff.co.nz website.

Snedden added: “Dick Smith has been a great partner of ours so it has been pretty sad news today. We will just see what happens when the dust settles here (in New Zealand). There (are) lots of different eventualities that could come out of this in the long run, but we will let the receivers do what they are doing in Australia and concentrate on the short term of getting ready for the Nines this year.”

As part of its sponsorship deal with the Stars, Dick Smith’s logo had featured on the front of the team’s playing jerseys. The company had in October extended its partnership with the franchise until the end of the 2016-17 season, the two parties having first teamed up in 2013.

Stars chief executive Clint Cooper told The Age newspaper: “What it means is that some of our most valuable broadcast assets are available for the second half of the season and potentially finals. We've got two massive matches this week including what should be a sell-out derby, which we think is a really attractive opportunity for potential sponsors.

“With the run to the finals still to come, we think there are a number of Australian brands who would see the value of jumping on board right when the Big Bash and the Melbourne Stars is hitting its high.”