Comms Direct, Cardiff City's shirt sponsor was offered an incredible half-a-million pound deal to give up their advertising rights for the FA Cup final.

But executives at CommsDirect declined the offer from an Asian-based online gambling venture in favour of taking advantage of a "once in a century" opportunity to have global television exposure when Cardiff play Portsmouth at Wembley. CommsDirect, which has its headquarters in Cardiff, is one of Europe’s leading third-generation mobile phone contract reselling businesses.

It employs 400 people at its Cardiff and Swansea call centres and sells a new phone every 40 seconds.

Days after Cardiff’s FA semi-final victory over Barnsley on April 6, the company was approached by an intermediary representing an online gambling venture based in the Far East. The broker offered £500,000 to have its clients’ name emblazoned on Cardiff City’s black strip for the FA Cup instead of CommsDirect.

Football fans in more than 200 countries, generating a global audience of more than 500 million, will view tomorrow’s match.

Matt Burge, managing director of CommsDirect, said: "On the Wednesday after Cardiff’s FA semi-final win at Wembley we were contacted by a sports marketing agency representing an undisclosed online gambling business based in Asia.

"The offer of £500,000 was tempting, but after discussing it with our board and then with Cardiff City we decided to reject it.  

"Cardiff reaching the FA Cup final is a once in a century opportunity for us to market CommsDirect to a truly global audience."

Mr Burge said that the fact that the company’s Cardiff operation has so many City fans was another major factor.

He added: "We couldn’t really envisage fans turning up with CommsDirect on their shirts only to see the players running out onto the pitch with a different name on theirs. That would have looked bad for us."

CommsDirect’s shirt sponsorship deal with Cardiff City ends today after a two-year relationship.

Contractually the company could have effectively sub-leased its shirt naming rights for the FA Cup without any financial penalty.

"We had a conversation with Cardiff’s finance director, and he said the decision was entirely up to us, but by that time we already had some serious reservations," said Sydney-born Mr Burge

For commercial reasons, the Australian, who lives in Penarth with his Welsh wife and children, could not disclose the value of the two-year deal with Cardiff City. However, it is understood that it is higher than £500,000, but not significantly so.


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