England lose sponsor amid ‘missing cash’ claims

Drennan and Angling Trust clash as Peter asks ‘show me the accounts’

One of the most successful and lucrative sponsorship deals in the history of fishing has come to an abrupt end this week after the Angling Trust ditched Drennan as backers of the England team.

England team Portugal 2018.jpg

The shock move followed the release of a statement by Peter Drennan questioning where the funds – estimated to be around £30,000 a year – were being allocated by the Trust.

Angling Times understands the Oxford-based family firm have paid in excess of £750,000 to the governing body over their 25 year tenure, ensuring the England team are able to compete at the highest level across the world.

During that time the team has accounted for 35 team and individual medals, including an incredible nine golds.

But now, questions are being asked by Drennan as to where the funding is going.

Nigel Botherway, who is a huge England supporter and also an Angling Trust Ambassador, broke the news on his TalkSPORT radio show Fisherman’s Blues on the morning of Sunday 27 January.

Here he announced Peter Drennan’s statement.

Peter Drennan statement

Peter Drennan statement

It read: “The Angling Trust has decided not to renew our sponsorship of the England team after 25 years.

“Since late 2017, and for the first time during our sponsorship, we have expressed concerns regarding allocation of the funds we provided and accounts procedures on expenditure.

“Unfortunately, funds could not be accurately accounted for, particularly for the year ending March 2017.

“We also questioned aspects of selection and management, in particular the exclusion of two anglers with the highest international ranking and the best available young anglers from the next generation, from the European Championships 2018.

“These questions remain unanswered, but in the light of our investment for so many years, and for the benefit of the England team, we hope our concerns are taken into consideration by the Trust and the current team manager in future.

“We have been proud of our association and have the utmost respect for all those world class anglers and managers such as Dick Clegg and Mark Addy.

“It has been a pleasure and a privilege for our company to be associated with team England for so long.”

When did the mistrust start?

The Angling Trust’s alleged mishandling of Drennan’s funds first originated from a letter sent by an anonymous writer to Peter Drennan in December 2017.

The information provided by this ‘whistle-blower’ in the short letter read: “Hi Peter – I think you ought to know that since the Angling Trust has taken over from the NFA, £22,000 of the sponsorship money that you give Team England has gone missing. Regards, A Drennan fan.”

It’s now apparent that this letter had caused the breach of trust between Peter and the Angling Trust during December 2017 and January 2019, although officials from the Trust have now responded with their own statement claiming that the allegations made in the letter are indeed false.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said in the statement: “I am very disappointed that this longstanding contract has not been renewed but it became clear earlier this month that it would not be possible to meet the new and onerous requirements of the sponsor. 

“I also want to be absolutely clear that there is no evidence whatsoever of any funds from the sponsor going missing or of any other financial impropriety. 

“Any suggestions to the contrary are entirely false.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we will happily make public our accounts for Team England for the past 5 years.

"The Angling Trust would like to thank Drennan International for all their support of the team over the past 25 years.

“Over the coming weeks, the Angling Trust will be seeking alternative sponsorship from other partners in the trade to ensure that our teams can continue to compete at the highest level and maintain our reputation as the country to beat on the international circuit.

“These discussions have already begun.”

The Angling Trust and TalkSPORT

The Angling Trust’s statement also expressed its disappointment towards TalkSPORT who didn’t give the authority a chance to respond to Drennan’s announcement on the Fisherman’s Blues programme.

During the show, Nigel Botherway said: “I even asked Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, if he’d like to come on the show this morning to talk about the funding he’d just obtained (Angling Trust four-year contract with EA), and he declined saying he had a late night last night.

“To be honest with you I thought that was a bit weak – I thought he should have come on – maybe he was worried I would speak to him about this – when I messaged him I didn’t know about this Drennan story.”

Angling Times can now confirm that TalkSPORT have since invited Mark onto Fisherman’s Blues for a show to be aired on Sunday 3 February.

Mark said via a Facebook comment: “I have spoken to Nigel Botherway today and he has agreed to give us the right to reply with an interview on Talk Sport next Sunday.

“He will also apologise for not giving us that right last weekend.

“I must stress once again that there has been no misappropriation of the sponsor's funds.

“The insinuations and allegations about Angling Trust staff, who have the highest standards of integrity, on this and other online threads are completely wide of the mark.

“The Angling Trust subsidises all the England teams with insurance, registration fees and huge amounts of staff time on administration and support.

“We worked very hard to try and meet Peter Drennan's demands, but some were simply not possible and so the relationship has had to come to an end.

“I don't want to inflame the situation further by spelling out the details of commercially-confidential discussions.

“Please keep this in proportion.

“We're doing all that we can to find replacement sponsors as soon as possible.

“Thank you very much for the many messages of support from those who haven't jumped to conclusions.”

A voice from the current England squad

The statement written by Peter Drennan also posed questions as to why current England manager Mark Downes wasn’t thanked for his work with the team over the past 19 years, whereas past managers, Dick Clegg OBE and Mark Addy, were.

Joint Managers Mark Downes and Steve Sanders said: “We would like to extend our huge thanks to Drennan International for their massive support over the last 25 years, our England teams would have found it difficult to achieve the current World No. 1 status without such support.

“But like everything, nothing lasts forever, we have a hugely talented squad that is brimming with experience and a great pool of youth talent that is rapidly making a name for itself on the International stage.

“We are confident that with this blend of youth and experience we will be able to maintain our No. 1 ranking well into the future and look forward to forging a great relationship with new supporters.”

Panel:

For full transparency, The Angling Trust have opened access to all transactions from 2012 to 2017 relating to the Drennan sponsorship. These transactions, alongside the Angling Trust’s full statement can be found on a link on their website at www.anglingtrust.co.uk 

Official link: https://www.anglingtrust.net/news.asp?itemid=4749&itemTitle=Angling+Trust+statement+about+end+of+Drennan+Sponsorship+of+Team+England&section=29&sectionTitle=Angling+Trust+News&fbclid=IwAR3J7LpkI5TtngZhKhFraOh158iR4rNlWyyPNSzE1bIcz1Z0V2MerYfP8JA

The Angling Trust statement also reveals an accurate timeline of events as the issue unfolded.