SUPERVALU has emerged as the favourite to replace Toyota as co-sponsor of the All-Ireland senior football championship.
The GAA has called a press conference for Monday morning to announce the new sponsor following the departure of car maker Toyota after two years of a three-year deal which was due to expire at the end of this season's championships.
Toyota, which prior their involvement with the championships were official car sponsors to the GAA, announced their withdrawal yesterday. They gave no official reason for their early departure, but clearly it's linked to the serious downturn in car sales over the last two years.
"We agreed with the GAA in the autumn that should a suitable replacement for Toyota be found, we would be prepared to stand aside for the 2010 championships. This replacement has now been found," said Toyota Ireland Managing Director David Shannon.
"We have enjoyed our long-standing association with the GAA and look forward to working with them on new projects in the future."
Toyota were co-sponsors of the football championships with Vodafone and Ulster Bank for the past two seasons. The cost per company per year was believed to be around €1.5m.
Guinness, Etihad Airways and RTE sponsored the hurling championships in 2008-2009 in a package believed to cost €1m per company per year.
Negotiations are under way for a new deal to commence this year. National broadcaster RTE have already indicated that they will not be continuing.
The multi-company sponsorship arrangement was introduced to the championships for the 2008 season and greatly increased revenue for the coffers of the GAA, who -- prior to that -- had drink giants Guinness and Bank of Ireland as individual backers of All-Ireland hurling and football. Total GAA sponsorship revenue for 2009 is understood to have been worth around €8m.
However, it remains to be seen if the GAA can continue to earn as much from sponsorship for the new championship deals at a time of serious economic downturn.
Both players are in the St Gall's panel for next weekend's All-Ireland club semi-final, so Chris Breen and Ryan Carson come into the starting side.