IZOD looking to get out of their IndyCar contract?

UPDATE #4 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today. The Indianapolis Business Journal tweeted this morning that Randy Bernard expects IZOD to stay as the IndyCar title sponsor through 2015.

06/13/12 Izod expanded to China last year, and PVH executive Mike Kelly pushed Randy Bernard to take IndyCar there as a way to raise the brand’s awareness. IndyCar signed an agreement with a race promoter in Qingdao. Now that race, set for Aug. 19, has been cancelled, much like the future of IZOD’s sponsorship of IndyCar. So the loss of the China race may cost IndyCar it's title sponsor. Recall Roger Penske never wanted to go to China and spoke negatively about it. Perhaps the mayor in China got wind of Penske's comments and told them to take a hike.

06/11/12 A reader asks, why is Izod looking to get out of their IndyCar contract early? Morgan Smith

Dear Morgan, The race in China isn’t Randy Bernard’s only problem. Izod, has slowed its promotion of the series this year and appears to be looking to get out of the six-year deal three years before it expires. Why? Well no one is talking on the record but recall we said when Anton George signed the 10 year TV deal with Versus that it was as of he wanted a death wish for IndyCar and that it would remain a noose around their neck. Izod are not stupid. They see those rating numbers and ask, what value are we getting for our money with those minuscule ratings? Anton George's destruction of the sport occurred at many levels. With their higher TV ratings maybe NASCAR has made Izod a deal they cannot refuse. Or maybe it was the small attention to China that has caused the race to be cancelled (soon) that was the final straw. Heck, there is not even a Chinese driver in IndyCar. What were they selling to the fans there? Chinese fans have no clue what IndyCar is. Did we also mention that the government might have felt as if they were being ripped off given the high sanctioning fee they were quoted compared to other IndyCar races. When in doubt, follow the money……..

06/08/12 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. The IndyCar Series has "begun searching for a potential replacement for its title sponsor, Izod, three years before the sponsorship is set to end," according to Tripp Mickle in next week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. IndyCar execs have "approached current series sponsors and brands about becoming the presenting sponsor of the series in a deal that would make them title sponsor at an undetermined date." The companies already approached include Verizon and Firestone, two existing partners, and "one company outside its collection of sponsors with the proposal." IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said that the series "still has a long-term deal with Izod that runs through at least 2015," and added that the sales effort is "designed to prepare the series for the future by helping IndyCar secure long-term sponsorships in the technology and tire categories and the funding it needs to expand the number of races it holds." IndyCar’s search "follows an executive change at Izod parent company Phillips-Van Heusen Corp." Longtime President & COO Allen Sirkin, who supported the IndyCar deal, is retiring, and sources said that his replacement as COO, current PVH CFO and Exec VP/Finance Michael Shaffer, "has been less enthusiastic about the more than $60 million deal Izod signed in 2009." Sources said that Izod pays about $6M to IndyCar annually in rights fees and spends an additional $5M annually on media and activation. The company has a minimum of three years left on its deal, but Bernard "would not say whether Izod would fulfill that obligation" SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/11 issue

06/04/12 Curt Cavin wrote in the Indy Star, "I don't know what the ad buy is for Izod, but I can tell you there's been a reduced presence." Cavin: "I believe Randy told me there was five years left on the contract…One side tells me Izod is negotiating its way out, another is saying all is well. So, I guess we'll have to see which side is telling the truth" INDYSTAR.com. Cavin wrote, "The fact of the matter is, Bernard's future is more linked to IndyCar's financial picture than disgruntled team owners." He asked, "Does Izod stay as designed? Does China work as it is supposed to? [Don't hold your breath] Does Lotus remain as an engine supplier?" These "are the things to watch" INDY STAR.

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