Asking price too much for long-time Eels sponsor
End of an era ... the Eels will announce that Pirtek won't be extending their contract beyond the end of this season by the end of the week. Photo: Wolter Peeters
THE PARRAMATTA EELS will part ways with major sponsor Pirtek at the end of the season after failing to reach an agreement over the value of the deal.
Fairfax Media understands the Eels have raised their asking price from $1 million to $1.5 million a season, an increase Pirtek didn't deem as a worthwhile investment.
It ends Pirtek's nine-year association as major sponsor, the second longest in the Eels' history behind James Hardie (15 years from 1981-1995).
Pirtek were keen to extend their contract with the western Sydney club for an amount similar to the $1 million-a-season they paid in 2010 as part of a three-year deal that extended through to the end of 2013.
But eyebrows were raised after the club asked for a 50 per cent increase for the front-of-jersey rights, despite finishing 12th, 14th and 16th on the ladder in the years that followed the club's renewed commitment after the 2009 grand final.
The Eels will announce that Pirtek won't be extending their contract beyond the end of this season by the end of the week.
There is a suggestion the Eels demanded such a large sponsorship price as a means to terminate their association with Pirtek because of the tension between the Eels board and Pirtek chief executive, Glenn Duncan.
Duncan resigned from the board in October 2011 after expressing his dismay over the way it handled the financial saga that surrounded former Eels boss Paul Osborne.
Fairfax Media understands new Eels chief executive Ken Edwards tried to resolve the angst between Duncan and the board to no avail.
It remains unclear who will take over from Pirtek as the club's major sponsor from next season.
It is understood the Eels are looking at large billion-dollar organisations to affiliate themselves with from next year.
Whether they get the $1.5 million-a-season they asked from Pirtek will depend on the on-field success of the football club.
The Brisbane Broncos, who have the added advantage of playing the majority of their matches on free-to-air television in the prime time Friday night time slot, have a deal with NRMA Insurance believed to be worth $1.2 million a year.
While the NRL's decision to schedule the first 20 rounds will provide the Eels the luxury of some free-to-air matches, regardless of where they finish on the ladder this year, they will need to strike one of the biggest club sponsorship deals in the history of the game to attain their desired figure.
Penrith signed a deal with OAK that was reportedly worth a million dollars a season.
Pirtek are committed to seeing out the final year of their contract with the Eels.
Meanwhile, St George Illawarra utility Bronx Goodwin has a torn pectoral muscle which is expected to sideline him for four months.
The injury is a bitter disappointment for the 29-year-old, who had enjoyed a positive pre-season build-up for this season.
Goodwin was keen to impress and push his claims for a position in the Dragons' side for the annual Charity Shield match against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Friday night, the red and whites' final trial game.
But this latest injury has put paid to those plans.
He underwent scans yesterday afternoon after sustaining the injury in the Dragons' 28-22 loss to North Queensland in Cairns on Saturday night.
The versatile goalkicking utility back had only been on the field for a matter of minutes during the second quarter.
''It has been confirmed that Bronx Goodwin has torn his pectoral muscle in the Dragons trial against the Cowboys on the weekend,'' Dragons performance director, Andrew Gray, said yesterday.
with MIKE GANDON