SPL chief hopes negative headlines boost sponsor search

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster believes recent controversies may help the league attract a new sponsor.

The Clydesdale Bank will end its sponsorship in 2013, while "illicit chanting" and late payment of player wages have created negative headlines.

However, Doncaster told BBC Scotland it "creates a real opportunity" for companies to "maximise exposure for their brands".

The SPL has begun searching for a new sponsor, he added.

The Clydesdale Bank, which has sponsored Scotland's top flight since 2007, will end its association at the end of next season.

"The SPL has consistently demonstrated that it provides terrific value to its sponsors. I am sure that success will be important in the work we now undertake," Doncaster said.

The previous sponsor, Bank of Scotland, ended a nine-year deal in 2007 to concentrate on investment of grassroots football, and Clydesdale's deal was extended in 2010.

The current deal is worth £8m to the SPL, which helps support community football activities across its 12 member clubs and is supplemented by media rights income.

Celtic being the subject of Uefa and SPL inquiries into chanting at the recent games against Rennes and Hibs, and Hearts players once again not receiving their wages on time, are among a number of concerning issues for the top flight.

However, Doncaster said: "I think that a number of those issues have arisen over the last couple of years and that corresponds to a time when interest in the SPL - and the number of viewers we're getting watching our games on television - is going up and up.

"So, I think there's clearly a very high level of exposure that the league gets from those sorts of issues and that clearly creates a real opportunity for any companies coming in who want to maximise the exposure for their brands."

Doncaster added: "Work also now begins on seeking a new title sponsor for the foremost sporting competition in Scotland from season 2013/14."

The SPL now has 18 months in which to find a new sponsorship deal.