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Challenge Cup scoops Ladbrokes as title sponsor

UK bookmaker Ladbrokes has signed up as the title sponsor of English rugby league’s Challenge Cup knockout competition in a three-year deal, from 2015 to 2017.

Under the deal with the Rugby Football League, the sport’s governing body in England, Ladbrokes will benefit from more than 1,000 hours of television coverage worldwide, including more than 70 hours of UK coverage. The bookmaker will also present a Ladbrokes Player of the Round Award.

As part of the agreement, Ladbrokes will introduce a responsible gambling initiative for rugby league players, fans and staff. English rugby league’s administrators have been reluctant to associate the game with the betting industry since a gambling scandal erupted in 2004 featuring leading players Sean Long and Martin Gleeson, and possible sponsorship deals with 888.com and Betfair have been rejected in recent years.

“Ladbrokes is one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands which has over 800,000 customers and this partnership will bring great benefits to both parties,” RFL commercial director Chris Rawlings said.

“Ladbrokes is the latest major brand to recognise the advantages of associating their brand with rugby league and it gives me great pleasure to welcome them to the sport’s current existing and impressive commercial portfolio.”

Ladbrokes has replaced Leeds-based brewery Tetley’s in the title sponsorship role after the latter backed the 2013 and 2014 editions of the tournament.