Tottenham Hotspur seem to be caught in the middle of a political squabble in South Africa, with The Sunday Times now reporting that the club’s proposed sponsorship deal with South African Tourism has been criticised by ActionSA, a prominent political party in the country.

It was Daily Maverick who first broke news earlier this week about a potential sponsorship agreement between Tottenham and South African tourism.

The report claimed that SA Tourism was preparing to agree on a deal with Spurs to the tune of £42.5m over three years.

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The publication suggested that the deal could be announced by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, during his State of the Nation addresses on 10 February 2023.

However, ActionSA have now condemned the proposal and criticised the ruling African National Congress, questioning whether it is the appropriate way to use tax-payer funds, and suggesting that the deal would enrich the party members rather than benefit South Africans.

Party leader Herman Mashaba is quoted by The Sunday Times as saying about Tottenham’s proposed Sponsorship deal: “At a time when South Africa is facing an unprecedented energy crisis and rampant crime, scarce state resources should be used to address the most pressing needs in the nation.

“If we want to attract sustainable tourism to South Africa, we need to start by fixing these issues not just an expensive PR campaign with questionable benefits.

“It is questionable that this deal appears to be pushed through with much haste and alacrity before [tourism minister Lindiwe] Sisulu is reshuffled in cabinet in the coming days, further raising suspicion behind the true motives of the deal. 

“South Africans are all too familiar with ‘success fees’ that officials and politicians have earned from similar deals in the past. Sadly, one cannot evaluate any such proposal without questioning who the real financial beneficiaries will be.”

If the deal does go through it would represent an increase from the £10 million-per-year deal the club currently has with the online car dealer, Cinch (Times).

As part of the agreement, from next season onwards, South Africa will be promoted as a destination on Tottenham’s shirts, interview backdrops, and more across a three-year deal, including holding training camps in the country.

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Other Premier League clubs have signed similar sponsorship agreements with destination management organisations so, it is not surprising that Tottenham are exploring such a deal.

However, perhaps the potential political backlash and bad PR (even if unwarranted) might make the club reconsider entering an agreement with SA Tourism.

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