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Virgin to extend Brawn GP deal
Virgin are to remain as sponsors of the Brawn GP team throughout the entire 2009 season according to rumors at RealBrawnGP.com. Whilst it's still unclear as to what level they will partner with the team, we understand the current level of exposure will continue, with Virgin providing an increase in funding but stopping well short of title sponsorship.

Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson has made it clear that he is not prepared to pay top rates for title sponsorship, despite having a huge range of products to promote. Throughout Virgin's history, Branson and his team have been incredibly successful in gaining PR coverage for little outlay. The current deal at Brawn GP, worth around £600,000 ($873,000/€671,000) for the first four races, has secured the Virgin Group in excess of £10 million ($14.5m/11.2m) of coverage.

"The team have become very popular since the beginning of the season," said Branson in Bahrain. "We are negotiating, as are other people, and we may or may not end up doing a full branding exercise. Someone could come in and pay a silly price, and we will bow out gracefully if that happens. But we've made an offer we feel we can afford."

The offer from Virgin is well above the current price on the race-by-race, but is understood to be some way short of the perceived value for a title sponsorship agreement. RealBrawnGP.com have been told that there are other parties interested in a full branding partnership, and are able to commit to the two or three year deals required by Brawn GP.

During the Winter, where the entire future of the team was in doubt, the title sponsorship was being offered at no cost in 2009, as long as a longer term deal through to 2011 was signed at full commercial values.

The immediate plans for Virgin will be revealed in Barcelona, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

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