London: Vodafone, one of English cricket’s leading sponsors, has warned that it may withdraw its £ 3 million a year backing if England go ahead with their planned tour of Zimbabwe in 2004, The Guardian reported on Friday.
Ian MacLaurin, chairman of the telecommunications multinational, who until last year was also the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), told the paper it would be “abhorrent” for England to play in Zimbabwe while the regime of president Robert Mugabe still held power.
As part of an attempt to repair relations MacLaurin’s successor, the current ECB chairman David Morgan, addressed a meeting of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union where it was confirmed that England would tour there in 2004. ECB chief executive Tim Lamb said: “We will need to give serious consideration to the feeling of our sponsors.”
Vodafone and the ECB are currently halfway through a four-year sponsorship deal worth £ 3 million per year.