The ECB’s headline sponsorship deal with KP Snacks for the new Hundred competition is in jeopardy following the Government’s announcement of a ban on junk food advertising online.
Sportsmail has learned that sponsorship deals which promote fast food online and on television will be considered for inclusion when officials finalise the finer details of the ban, which will be introduced next year.
The ECB were heavily criticised by health campaigners when KP were announced as the Hundred’s main sponsors in a £4million deal two years ago, with each of the eight city-based teams given high-fat, high-salt snacks to promote on their shirts.
The Hundred’s £4million headline sponsorship deal with KP Snacks is in jeopardy
The launch of the tournament in July should be unaffected as the junk-food advertising ban does not begin until 2022 after being announced in the Queen’s Speech this week, but there are concerns it could have major implications for the remainder of KP’s five-year deal.
The ECB’s rationale for introducing the controversial 100-ball format was to increase the sport’s appeal to families and children, so much of the content and associated sponsorship deals will be promoted to that audience.
All of the matches will be live on the BBC and Sky Sports, while both broadcasters will promote near-live clips on their websites, meaning the KP shirt sponsorships could be classed as a breach of the ban.
KP were announced as the Hundred’s main sponsors in a five-year deal two years ago
The legislation also states that advertising junk food on TV before 9pm will be prohibited, as will promoting fast food on social media.
There were raised eyebrows in Westminster when the ECB announced the KP deal in 2019, with former Sports Minister Nigel Adams criticising the decision, and the Government will come under pressure to ensure the advertising ban has teeth.
‘It’s very disappointing from my perspective to see a salty snack firm sponsoring a new, exciting cricket competition, which is aimed at getting kids into the game,’ Adams told Sportsmail last year. ‘That was one dropped in the slips by the ECB.’
Health campaigners have also criticised the sponsorship deal, with the Obesity Health Alliance saying that ‘relentless exposure’ to junk-food marketing has a direct influence on children’s food choices and how much they eat.
The problem of childhood obesity has become even more pronounced over the last year given the impact of multiple lockdowns on kids’ activity levels and diet, with Boris Johnson taking an active interest in the issue following his own health problems.
There were raised eyebrows in Westminster when the ECB announced the KP deal in 2019
The ECB reacted to the initial criticism by stating KP products would not feature on replica shirts sold to children.
The governing body claim the KP deal will enable them to engage with more people and help educate them about health and activity.
‘The Hundred’s partnership with KP Snacks enables us to introduce cricket to more families and is based around getting people active,’ said an ECB spokesperson. ‘Investment from commercial partners plays a vital role in funding grassroots cricket.’