By KEVIN TEME
PAPUA New Guinea’s mobile phone operator, bemobile PNG Ltd, has pulled out its sponsorship for the 2011 bemobile Cup competition.
PNG National Rugby League chairman Don Fox confirmed this yesterday.
Fox said the decision of bemobile for terminating its sponsorship was determined by the change of business priorities.
The country’s only nationally-owned mobile phone operator took over the naming rights of the competition from SP Brewery with a huge K800,000 sponsorship beginning last year.
SP Brewery continued as minor sponsors with K200,000 for the last two years bringing the combined sponsorship for the country’s premier competition to K2 million.
However, bemobile pulled the plug citing “change of business priorities” which have not been fully explained but it has been known that the communications company has not been able to snap a good share of the mobile phone market for some time.
In a letter sent to Fox, bemobile management stated ambiguously: “The decision to pull out is determined by the change of bemobile’s business priorities and should not be taken as a reflection of the effects extended by the parties in respect of the bemobile Cup competition.”
Fox admitted the sponsorship loss presented a huge challenge but was confident in tying down a replacement before the season starts next year.
“There is nothing I can do about it but we are looking at potential sponsors and we will get someone, there is no two ways about it,” Fox affirmed.
“The bottom line is they (bemobile) withdrew their support some weeks ago but we are confident we will get some sponsors to replace them.”
Fox said a similar situation had taken place at the end of 2008 when SP signalled it was scaling down of support for the competition.
“It has happened before when SP also stepped down as major sponsors but we managed to find another sponsor.
“It is early days yet and we are confident we will get the sponsors in,” Fox said.
He said nothing definite was on hand but told The National that talks were in progress with four potential sponsors and was positive the competition would be given a second lease on life next year.
Meanwhile, bemobile Cup chairman Anthony Smare when contacted confirmed that the company would not be major sponsors but they would continue their support for rugby league.