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Kia to see out Essendon contract

In black and red: Kia’s logo will stay on the Essendon Football Club jumper, according to new Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith.

One more year of pain for Kia as it sticks by drug-scandal AFL club Essendon

12 Jan 2016

KIA Motors Australia (KMAu) says it will honour the final year of its five-year multi-million-dollar major sponsorship with troubled Australian Football League club Essendon in the wake of the supplements scandal that has cost 34 players a 12-month ban.

However, it concedes that an extension of the contract will come under close scrutiny before any decision is made later this year.

KMAu media and corporate communications general manager Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto that Kia had been closely watching the latest developments.

“We have a contract in relation with Essendon Football Club, and that contract has one more year to run,” he said. “At Kia, we honour our contracts.”

Although details of the sponsorship deal have been kept secret, media guesstimates when it was signed in October 2011 suggest it was worth $10 million in cash and kind, including loan cars, in one of the biggest such deals at the time.

It seemed that no sooner had the contract been signed than the supplements saga broke, engulfing both Essendon and – by extension – Kia.

However, the South Korean company has stuck with Essendon through the three-year drama, including various court cases, tribunal hearings and appeals.

Today, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) appeal against the AFL Tribunal’s not-guilty finding against the 34 players and the club last year.

The players and club officials were all hit with 12-month bans – well above the three months that many sports commentators predicted.

Twelve of the players, including club captain Jobe Watson, are still at the club, while others have either retired or transferred to rival clubs including St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide and Melbourne.

Essendon will be allowed to call up fill-in players for season 2016, to at least field a team.

The problem for Kia is that the drama is not yet over, with the prospect of player law suits against the club potentially lingering over several more years.

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