Nationwide Building Society is renewing its sponsorship of the Football League in a £12m deal over the next three years.
It marks the biggest-ever sponsorship deal for the Football League, rising to £4m from £3m a season. The first, second and third divisions, involving 72 clubs, will continue to be called the Nationwide Football League until the end of the 2003/04 season.
Nationwide, the league's sponsor for the last five seasons, also keeps sponsorship rights to the Manager of the Month, Save of the Month and Man of the Match awards for televised games and the Fair Play League.
The continuation of the £750,000 Season of Promise initiative, funded by Nationwide, will see each club in the league receiving £10,000 to help disadvantaged groups in the local community.
The Football League says, with almost 14 million people attending league games each year, it is an attractive vehicle for sponsors.
The deal comes as as the Football League has concluded a £315m three-year deal to go back on terrestrial television, with 15 live games to be screened on ITV next season.
Nationwide marketing and commercial director Stuart Bernau says: “Nationwide is delighted to continue its association as sponsor of the oldest league championship in the world.”
Football League chief executive David Burns says: “The return of our games to free-to-air television further strengthened the package we were able to offer to meet the strategic objectives of Nationwide.”