WEMBLEY, England (AP) – Budweiser became the first American title sponsor of the FA Cup on Thursday as organizers try to enhance the competition's global status and ensure the final is restored as the English season's showpiece finale.
The beer brand hopes it can raise the FA Cup's profile around the world after agreeing to a three-year deal worth a reported 24 million pounds ($39 million). World football's oldest domestic cup competition will now be known as ''The FA Cup with Budweiser.''
Due to Wembley Stadium hosting the Champions League final last month, the final had to be staged on the same day of league matches for the first time in more than 50 years.
That meant Manchester City's first FA Cup win in 42 years had to compete for attention with Manchester United winning a record 19th English title.
''Clearly it is an aspiration to get the cup final back as a day on its own without other matches,'' Football Association chairman David Bernstein said at Wembley. ''We are working very hard with the Premier League and other authorities to do that ... hopefully everyone will see it is the right thing for football.''
But the same clash could occur in 2013 when the Champions League returns to Wembley since UEFA needs access to the stadium for two weeks before the match.
But the FA Cup has also struggled to retain its prestige in recent seasons as some leading clubs have prioritized deploying their best players in the more lucrative Champions League and Premier League.
Budweiser is owned by Anheuser-Busch, which became the U.S. subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev NV after being bought by Belgium's InBev in 2008.
Since then the company has been working hard to establish Budweiser as a global brand, as it loses its shine in the United States.
The drink is being pushed in Europe, Asia and Brazil, AB InBev's second biggest market.
''I have a property here with the FA Cup that will work in pretty much every country,'' said Budweiser global vice president Jason Warner. ''The FA Cup is a big deal in China, Brazil and Latin America.''
Budweiser is investing a large part of its marketing budget in Britain, where sales jumped 36 percent last year as the beer benefited from its sponsorship of the World Cup in South Africa.
But the company contacted FIFA last month about the impact of the worst corruption scandal in the organization's 107-year history.
''We shared with FIFA a couple of weeks ago our concerns about what was happening,'' said AB InBev's chief marketing officer, Chris Burggraeve. ''We always speak from a fans' perspective. We want to ensure people concentrate on the game and whatever internal debates are kept internal.''
With Budweiser replacing German utility company E.ON as the main sponsor, both of England's cup competitions are now sponsored by American beer companies.
Carling, which is owned by the Denver-based Molson Coors Brewing Co., is the title sponsor of the League Cup.
England's national team is also backed by Danish brewer Carlsberg.