Giteau possibly back with Brumbies by January

Matt Giteau could soon be back in Canberra playing for the Brumbies as early in January according to media reports from the Australian Capital.

Giteau has been the subject of rumours all week as his Force contract’s backer (Firepower) collapsed causing Giteau to lose what is rumoured to be as much as AUD$1million and Canberra based businesses are looking to assist the Brumbies in sponsoring his move. .

The Force are said to have done everything in their power to keep Giteau with the club but they have not been able to secure enough replacement sponsorship for the last two years of his contract, leading to a standoff between the club and its star player.

The Canbera Times report that Giteau’s manager James Erskine has spoken with several Canberra business leaders who are ready to open their cheque books to help bring the Wallabies flyhalf back to Canberra.

While the identity of the businesses remains secret, it is understood they represent some of the ‘usual suspects’ in the Canberra sponsorship market, which includes real estate agencies and property developers.

According to marketing research company Sweeney Sports, Giteau is the 55th most recognisable Australian sportsperson, ranked alongside NBA star Andrew Bogut and golfer Adam Scott.

He is, by Sweeney’s ranking, the third most marketable current Wallabies player, behind only captain Stirling Mortlock and Lote Tuqiri.

Canberra businesses would likely need to raise $400,000 a year to match the reported third-party sponsorship on offer in Perth, where the Force has been scrambling desperately to keep its marquee player.

The Force released a statement late yesterday regarding Giteau, insisting it was not responsible for arrangements between players and sponsors, although it had ”assisted Matt to mitigate his financial losses of his current contract”.

Force chief executive Greg Harris said Giteau had not indicated to the club he wanted to exit his contract early.

”Matt is an extremely valuable member of our team who is adored by supporters and we’d like to think he will honour his commitments to the Western Force in 2009,” Harris said.

The Brumbies have not been involved in sponsorship talks with Giteau’s management because they are prevented from doing so by Australian Rugby Union contracting regulations.

However the Brumbies have been in general talks with Giteau since June about a possible return to his first Super rugby club from 2010.

Giteau re-signed last year with the ARU until 2012, but he secured an option to leave Perth after the 2009 season.

That move was read as an indication he wanted to return home and Erskine subsequently contacted the Brumbies to formally express Giteau’s interest.

Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan met with Giteau in Sydney in June and new coach Andy Friend visited Wallabies camp to speak with him in September.

Fagan said yesterday, ”I’m not sure how close he is to making a decision, I don’t believe he’s set himself a deadline, but we’re hopeful he’ll see fit to return home.

”Indications were that he’d be making a decision over the course of the next couple of months.”

If the Canberra business push proves successful in luring Giteau back in 2010 or earlier, it would be by far the biggest third-party sport sponsorship deal in ACT history.

With thanks Canberra Times.

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