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Gloucestershire Business News

Auto giant grabs a slice of the 'pizza' cup

Known affectionately as the "pizza cup", the English Football League's hugely successful EFL Trophy will no longer be associated with Papa Johns as auto retailer Bristol Street Motors (BSM) make a surprise move to park in the fast food brand's prime sponsorship spot.

In a statement that wrongfooted many pundits in sports business, the EFL announced the mid-season change of sponsor with the auto retailer, which is part of the Vertu Group, supplanting Papa Johns, who fronted the fiercely-fought award since 2021. BSM will also become the EFL's Official Car Dealer as part of the new agreement.

The Trophy competition, which began in 1981, runs parallel to EFL league fixtures and is contested by League One and League Two clubs, as well as selected Premier League and Championship under-21 sides.

Its prize fund currently stands at just under £3m and football fans in the county will spot the immediate change this week: Gloucestershire's EFL L1 team Cheltenham will host West Ham United's Under 21s for a Suzuki Stadium home game tomorrow evening, while L2 squad Forest Green Rovers simultaneously welcome Brighton and Hove Albion Under 21s at the New Lawn in Nailsworth.

No price has been indicated on BSM's deal, but he EFL says the trophy's prize fund, which stands at just under £3m, will be added to by the move. The tie-in has been agreed to last until the end of the 2025/26 season.

The EFL said in a statement: "The Bristol Street Motors Trophy is a competition that supports youth development by providing opportunities for the next generation of players at both EFL Clubs and invited under 21 sides. Of the squad that helped England to qualify for next year's European Championships in Germany, Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka, Reece James and Conor Gallagher, made their professional debuts in the competition."

Half of all players named in the matchday squads of League One and Two clubs up to and including the quarter finals of last year's competition were aged 21 and under, the EFL said, with 64% of those qualifying to represent England.

The overall prize pot of almost £3 million, which provides significant revenue for each League One and League Two Club, will increase over the next two years with the investment from Bristol Street Motors.

Last season's Trophy went to Bolton Wanderers on front of nearly 80,000 fans for the final at Wembley, which saw the Trotters inflict a record 4-0 defeat on Plymouth Argyle.

With the Bristol Street Motors Trophy involving Clubs across the country, the new partnership offers BSM the opportunity to engage football fans and their communities (online and offline) on both a national and local level over the course of the agreement.

EFL CEO Trevor Birch, said: "We are delighted to welcome Bristol Street Motors as title sponsor of the EFL Trophy in a partnership that sees further investment into League One and Two clubs over the duration of the deal.

"With almost 22 million supporters coming through the turnstiles in all our competitions last year, a thriving community network and a landmark broadcast deal in place for next season which will see all Bristol Street Motors Trophy fixtures broadcast live by Sky Sports, the appeal of the EFL continues to grow from strength to strength offering a unique, valuable platform for our commercial partners.

Bristol Street Motors CEO Robert Forrester, added: "As a national business, Bristol Street Motors is hugely proud of the connections we have developed with communities across the UK through our dealership network.

"Across the communities, football is something that brings people together, so the opportunity to join forces with the EFL and Clubs that are such an important part of life for our customers was something that was simply too good to turn down.

"We are hugely excited to be named as title sponsor of the EFL Trophy and look forward to engaging with Clubs and fans over the next three years to make the competition bigger and better than ever before."

Originally operating from a single dealership in Birmingham, Bristol Street Motors has grown to become one of the largest automotive retailers in the UK, with the award-winning brand rapidly becoming one of the most trusted names for anyone looking for either a new or used car purchase.

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