Manly Sea Eagles in dispute with main sponsor

Australian NRL rugby league club the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles has today (Tuesday) confirmed that it is “managing” an ongoing dispute with its major sponsor, food and beverages company Coco Joy.

In a club statement, the Sea Eagles said that the issue has been ongoing since February and relates to unpaid sponsorship fees. Coco Joy in November agreed a lucrative three-year sponsorship deal with the club, granting it front-of-shirt branding exposure on the Sea Eagles’ playing jerseys.

The statement added that the issue is “completely unrelated to recent media reports”. Reports emerged last week that a police investigation had been launched surrounding alleged match-fixing of two games involving the club during the 2015 season.

Coco Joy’s agreement with the Sea Eagles covers the 2016 to 2018 NRL seasons. However, Flavour and Life Food and Beverages (FAL), Coco Joy’s parent company, has since claimed that its former chief executive Tim Xenos was not licensed to sign the deal in November, and that the partnership has been terminated as a result.

A FAL statement, which was reported by Australian news agency AAP, read: “FAL Healthy Beverages has no relationship with Manly RLFC. FAL terminated its sponsorship with Manly on 3 May, 2016.

“On 18 May FAL’s lawyers wrote to Manly’s lawyers directing that the club immediately cease using FAL’s Coco Joy trademarks on players’ jerseys, or otherwise promoting itself as having any relationship with FAL. Manly have refused to comply with this request.

“FAL contends that Manly’s continued unauthorised use of FAL’s trademarks has caused, and will continue to cause damage to FAL and its brands, especially in view of the current investigation into alleged match-fixing being conducted by the NSW Organised Crime Squad.”

A hearing between Manly and FAL representatives will take place at the New South Wales Supreme Court on July 27.

Coco Joy had previously served as the club’s sleeve sponsor before upgrading its partnership ahead of the 2016 season.