The polo world has been rocked by the news that Audi has ended its 12-year involvement in polo sponsorship.
Audi’s decision has left the England polo team and the Hurlingham Polo Association’s (HPA) flagship event, International Day, without a sponsor for 2015. Audi has also withdrawn its long-term sponsorship of Pony Club polo (pictured below).
“We have been working with Audi for the past two months in the hope of agreeing a new contract,” said HPA chief executive David Woodd “This now leaves English polo with new challenges, but also new opportunities, and we do have ideas in the pipeline for new sponsors.”
The three-match Audi International Series was created in 2012, following a three-year deal between Audi and the HPA. As well as taking over sponsorship of International Day from Cartier, which put its name to the iconic event for 27 years, Audi also sponsored test matches at Beaufort Polo Club in June, and Chester Racecourse Polo Club in September.
Mr Woodd is optimistic that all three internationals will still go ahead in 2015.
“We will run International Day, whether it is funded by us and the other existing sponsors, or by a new title sponsor, and both Chester Racecourse and Beaufort [polo clubs] are keen to keep their events going,” he told H&H. “We are not necessarily looking for a sponsor to take over all three events — individual ones could work better in many ways, especially as the England team line-up and opposition is always different.”
Audi UK’s head of PR, Jon Zammett, said in a statement: “Audi has made a positive impact on the development and growing success of the national England squad, in particular, as well as the sport over the years.
“We feel it is now an appropriate time to embark on a new era for Audi.”
He added that the luxury car company will “further embrace and focus” on activities relating to the performing arts, and has already expanded its links with Bafta and the Royal Ballet for this year.
Audi’s support of polo began in 2002, with sponsorship of visiting international teams. It will continue to host its Audi Polo Challenge — private events which have raised more than £1.7 million for various charities with the support of Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge.