The Rugby Football League has begun the search for a new sponsor for Super League after scrapping its controversial deal with the Stobart Group.
The League signed a three-year deal with Stobart in January but the clubs have decided to exercise an opt-out clause after 12 months. The RFL received no cash from the agreement, although the Super League clubs and players were advertised on 100 of Stobart's famous green trucks and they argued at the time that the deal could be worth up to £2.5million a year.
The vote to accept the Stobart deal was far from unanimous, however, and the governing body came in for fierce criticism from several clubs for rejecting a cash offer from a betting company who wanted to take over from previous sponsors Engage Mutual Assurance.
On Tuesday the RFL attempted to put on a brave face over the about-turn, pointing out that, since entering into the partnership, Super League has increased its TV audience by 45% and experienced record attendances.
Super League commercial director James Mercer said: "We are delighted at the success of our one-year partnership with Stobart and the exposure that this ground-breaking concept has created.
"The partnership has placed the sport in a wonderful position to move into the next cycle of our commercial strategy in 2013.
"Innovation has always been at the heart of the Super League and this collaboration showcased the creativity and unity of our clubs.
"With a combined TV audience of over 25 million, huge attendance levels and a national and international expansion the sport is well placed for an exciting future."
Stobart Group chief executive Andrew Tinkler said: "Stobart Group is pleased to have contributed to the promotion and success of the Super League in 2012, with a 45% increase in television audiences.
"The plan was always to review the partnership after the first year and we've decided to step back and allow the RFL to work with commercial partners that can offer the financial support it needs to further develop. As such, both parties have mutually agreed to end the collaboration at the close of the season."
- Super League
- Rugby Football League