London - The sponsor of English Premiership club West Bromwich Albion
announced on Monday they would not renew their deal at the end of the
season in the wake of striker Nicolas Anelka's controversial 'quenelle'
Lawrence Hall, head of communications for property
website Zoopla, said: "In recent weeks we have decided to re-evaluate
this sponsorship and as a result we will focus our attention on other
marketing activities from the end of the season."
However, West Brom tried to downplay the impact of Zoopla's move by saying they had long been preparing to seek another sponsor.
Bromwich Albion has been fully aware since the sponsorship agreement
came into force in June 2012 that its partnership with Zoopla could
expire this summer and therefore has been planning accordingly," a club
"Zoopla has today (Monday) informed the club in
writing that it does not wish to extend its sponsorship deal. The club
will now actively seek a new official sponsor for next season."
France striker Anelka, 34, sparked a media storm last month when he
celebrated the first of his two goals in West Brom's 3-3 league draw at
West Ham United by putting one arm across his chest and straightening
the other in a gesture interpreted by some as anti-Semitic.
'quenelle', popularised by French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, has
been described by critics in France as an 'inverted Nazi salute', but
Anelka has insisted that it was merely "a dedication" to the comic.
M'bala M'bala, better known simply as Dieudonne, says the gesture is anti-establishment and not anti-Semitic.
this month, England's governing Football Association (FA) said no
decision on whether Anelka would face disciplinary action would be
announced until this Monday, January 20, at the earliest, a move which
saw the FA criticised by anti-discrimination group Kick it Out for the
time it was taking.
West Brom's sporting and technical director,
Richard Garlick, speaking before reports emerged last week over the
future of Zoopla's sponsorship, also urged the FA to resolve the issue
as soon as possible.
"It would help everyone for that
investigation to be over as soon as possible, and the FA have given
their statement about how quickly they will do that."
Week magazine said Zoopla, co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex
Chesterman, could pull out of a deal worth a reported 3 million ($4.9
million) over two years and the largest in West Brom's history, should
Anelka play against Everton later on Monday.
But it added "one
source close to the matter" had told them it was likely Anelka, who has
continued to be selected by West Brom since making the gesture, would
play against Everton, with the Midlands side determined not to let
sponsors dictate team selection.
And Anelka was included in the starting side announced shortly before kick-off to play Everton.
Under new rules introduced last May, Anelka faces a minimum five-match ban if the FA decides he is guilty of discrimination.
Anelka is banned, Albion could find themselves without two forwards
following Friday's transfer of Shane Long to Premier League rivals Hull
City, and with little time to bring in a replacement before the January
West Brom are currently just three points above the
relegation zone and Monday's match at the club's Hawthorns ground will
be their first under new Spanish coach Pepe Mel.