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Newcastle United ends Virgin Money sponsorship deal

Richard Branson and Newcastle players show off Virgin Money sponsorship Richard Branson donned a Newcastle shirt when the bank signed the deal with Newcastle in January

Newcastle United has said it is ending its multimillion-pound sponsorship deal with Virgin Money a year early.

The two-year deal, thought to be worth up to £10m, was signed in January after Virgin Money bought previous sponsor Northern Rock.

A United spokesman said the club, owned by Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley, would announce a new sponsor soon.

Virgin Money said, while it respected the club’s decision, it had wanted to continue as the team’s main sponsor.

‘Different option’

In a statement, the club said: “Whilst Virgin Money will remain as club sponsor until the end of the current season, Newcastle United has chosen to exercise its contractual right, as both parties had the option to do, to end the two-year sponsorship deal with the bank at the end of this season.

“The Virgin Money name will continue to be worn on the iconic black and white shirts for the remainder of this season.”

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money said: “We were delighted to sponsor Newcastle United given the club’s importance to the North East and had hoped that this would be a relationship that would flourish for years to come.

“However, they have found a different option and we have to respect that.

“We remain sponsor until the end of the current season and the Virgin Money name will continue to be worn on the iconic black and white shirts until then.”

Newcastle United managing director Derek Llambias added: “We have enjoyed a very successful partnership with Virgin Money, however we have decided to end the agreement early and we will be announcing a new sponsorship partner shortly, which represents an excellent commercial deal for both parties.”

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Nani: Manchester United man not a diver – Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson has defended Nani against accusations of diving but believes foreign players in particular are to blame for simulation.

Nani was criticised in the wake of the 3-2 defeat by Tottenham

“We have known for quite a few years there are plenty of players diving and, you have to say, particularly foreign players,” said Ferguson.

But the 70-year-old Scot insisted: “Nani is not the type to dive. He has never been that type of player.”

Ferguson’s comments follow Sergio Aguero claim that home players are treated better than foreigners by Premier League referees.

In April, Ferguson, whose team face Romanian side Cluj in the Champions League on Tuesday night, warned Ashley Young about diving.

But he insists referee Chris Foy was wrong to deny Portuguese winger Nani, 25, a spot-kick at Old Trafford on Saturday following a challenge from Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen.

Ferguson added: “It was a penalty kick. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. From the referee’s position, it was difficult because there were plenty of bodies in front of him.”

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