UK bookmaker Ladbrokes has signed an exclusive three-year deal with the Rugby Football League, the governing body for rugby league in Britain and Ireland, to become the title sponsors of the Challenge Cup, one of the most prestigious competitions in world rugby league.
The 2015 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup will be contested by 78 clubs drawn from the First Utility Super League, Kingstone Press Championship and League 1 as well as the community game, Armed Forces, police and the University and College competitions.
The tournament, previously sponsored by Tetley’s Brewery, commences over the weekend of January 31st - February 1st and climaxes with a final at Wembley Stadium that was last year watched by over 1.6m people in the UK alone on BBC1.
The partnership will allow Ladbrokes to capitalise on the competition's vast and growing fan base, with the sport's exclusive broadcast partners, the BBC and Sky Sports, both televising pre-match build-up, live games, highlights, and post-result analysis.
In total, it is estimated that Ladbrokes will benefit from over 1,000 hours of dedicated global TV cover including over 70 hours of UK coverage.
Ladbrokes CEO Richard Glynn said that the company was “thrilled” to begin its sponsorship of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup in a historic and momentous year for the sport.
“Rugby League is without doubt one of the world's most exciting sports, brimming with energy and adrenaline both on and off the pitch,” he said. “The fans are beyond passionate, and that passion is infectious and spreading quickly across the globe.
“This exclusive deal will bring Ladbrokes unprecedented access to the action, which all of our customers have become accustomed to as part of The Ladbrokes Life. 2015 already promises to be bigger and better, and this is a fantastic opportunity for Ladbrokes to engage with Rugby League stakeholders on both an elite and grassroots level to continue the rapid growth of the sport. We're looking forward to the season ahead packed full of excitement, thrills and spills, and of course, world class rugby.”
Ladbrokes will have headline branding at all Ladbrokes Challenge Cup ties, and will launch a responsible gambling programme for rugby league players, fans and staff. The operator will also introduce the tournament's inaugural Ladbrokes Player of the Round Award.
In addition, Ladbrokes will work closely with players and personalities on promotional appearances and activities, and promote the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup heavily across all its media channels.
RFL commercial director Chris Rawlings said he was “delighted” to announce a partnership that will see the sport’s oldest and most prestigious competition become the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
“The Rugby League Challenge Cup is rich in heritage and tradition and it is both significant and fitting that the first Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final will be played on Founders Day,” he said. “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.
“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. We look forward to working closely with everyone at Ladbrokes and our member clubs to promote this exciting partnership.”