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FC Cincinnati sues agency over failed sponsor deal

Major League Soccer franchise FC Cincinnati has filed a lawsuit against the Premier Partnerships agency in a case relating to the search for a naming-rights sponsor for its under-construction West End Stadium.

FC Cincinnati, which entered MLS last year, is due to begin playing at West End Stadium from next spring. The stadium will have a capacity of between 26,000 and 26,500 but FC Cincinnati is yet to sell the naming rights for the venue, with ‘West End’ referring to the neighbourhood of Cincinnati in which it is located.

FC Cincinnati had engaged Premier Partnerships to find a naming-rights sponsor but the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the club has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles-based agency for alleged negligence in selling the rights. According to the Enquirer, the suit was filed yesterday (Monday) in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

The report said that FC Cincinnati is seeking compensatory damages and a declaratory judgment that it was right to end the contract with Premier Partnerships, which did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

FC Cincinnati first made contact with the agency when it was still a United Soccer League (USL) team. According to the Enquirer, the lawsuit alleges that Premier Partnerships offered a prospective stadium sponsor “various terms and items that either violated MLS rules or were financially unworkable for FC Cincinnati”.

The lawsuit adds: “Premier had no other prospective stadium sponsors in the pipeline, and forcing FC Cincinnati to close the deal – regardless of whether the terms violated MLS rules or were financially unreasonable for FC Cincinnati – was the only way Premier would collect its sizable commission.”

Brock Denton, an attorney representing the team, told the Enquirer: “The club will not comment on pending litigation. We believe the complaint speaks for itself and look forward to pursuing the merits of its claims with the court.”

The Courthouse News website reported that Premier Partnerships has launched a countersuit against FC Cincinnati, claiming the club “schemed to reject all of the consulting firm’s proposals so it could claim breach of contract and seek a more lucrative deal on its own”.

FC Cincinnati terminated its partnership with the agency on May 1.

Image: Populous