KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Pirelli will drop their €10m-a-year shirt-advert of Italy’s reviving Internazionale after 26 seasons.
The club and the tyre company have been linked one way or another for many decades and the shirt-ad was launched in 1995 under the club presidency of Massimo Moratti then maintained under the Chinese ownership by the Suning corporation.
However, while Inter are second in Serie A, financial worries are closing in. Suning is in serious trouble and already their Chinese champions, Jiangsu, have ceased both trading and playing.
Suning has requested help from the Chinese government to save face and it is understood that 23pc of the group’s shares have been acquired by public companies Kunpeng Capital (eight per cent) and Shenzhen International (15pc), for €1.9bn.
Remarkably, a reported €280m is heading directly to Steven Zhang, the Inter president who is also general manager of Suning.
The purpose of the rescue is to buy time while Zhang casts around for a buyer for Inter.
In this context, the sponsorship retreat by Pirelli could hardly come at a worse time for the club who have already upset some of their fans with a proposed new logo and name style.