The end of a lovely relationship as Tennent's tie-up with SFA is canned

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WHEREVER it takes us, whatever it takes. It sounds like a particularly naff Coldplay or U2 lyric, but the last slogan conjured up by Tennent's during their long commercial partnership with the SFA neatly summed up their approach to the relationship which has now come to an end.

• Hearts celebrate after beating Rangers 2 - 1 in the Tennent's Scottish Cup Final at Celtic Park. Picture: PA

During a period which saw Scottish football experience many more downs than ups, the Glasgow-based brewers offered unconditional support through the medium of their famous red 'T'. It was, as both parties observed yesterday, a mutually beneficial arrangement.

While the exposure offered by Scotland's national sport allowed Tennent's to cement its position as the country's leading brand of lager, the SFA benefited to the tune of some 25 million from the various deals struck between them.

It must be said that the reference to a 36-year partnership in yesterday's press release issued by the SFA and Tennent's to confirm its dissolution was stretching a point to some degree.

That first involvement back in 1974, when Scottish football was still struggling to come to terms with the concept of sponsorship, was restricted to Tennent's purchasing the rights to the official Scotland World Cup finals squad poster.

The Tennent's poster agreement, which continued for subsequent World Cup finals appearances in 1978, 1982 and 1986, allowed punters across Scotland to collect and redeem the ring-pulls from their cans of Tennent's in order to secure a glossy souvenir of the squad.

While the company did back the Tennent Caledonian Cup pre-season tournament at Ibrox from 1976 to 1979, an event which saw teams such as Manchester City, Southampton and West Ham United tempted north to compete with Rangers and other Premier Division clubs, their first major and sustained sponsorship of Scottish football began in 1984 with the launch of the Tennent's Sixes.

The indoor tournament took place in mid-season and was a significant success, providing Scottish clubs with welcome revenue during a period when their league fixtures often fell victim to the weather. Played at Coasters Arena in Falkirk and then at Ingliston for the first two years, the Tennent's Sixes then relocated to the SECC in Glasgow where it remained until the last tournament in 1993.

If the Sixes concept came to a natural end, Tennent's also moved on as they looked to focus their attention on their sponsorship of the Scottish Cup which began in 1989 with a four-year deal worth 2.5 million.

Tennent's were the first company to have their name included in the competition's title. Previously, it had been backed by the Scottish Health Education Group from 1983 to 1988 but remained known simply as the Scottish Cup. The competition would soon become comfortably familiar to everyone as the Tennent's Scottish Cup and remained so for a remarkable 18 years.

In the matchday programme for the first Tennent's Scottish Cup final in 1990, then SFA president Peter Gardiner wrote proudly of "three of the most lucrative deals ever concluded in Scottish football", the Tennent's contract having been secured in the same season as a 6.25 million, three-year agreement with British Satellite Broadcasting and a separate 4 million association with the BBC.

A glance through the rest of that programme, incidentally, provides a reminder of a very different Scotland. The Scottish Health Education Group, in fact, must have wondered if their six years with the SFA had the desired effect on football's attitude to well-being, for along with Tennent's branding were full colour advertisements for Embassy Regal, Kensitas Club and Bell's whisky.

But there was no doubt Tennent's and the Scottish Cup proved a good fit over the next 18 years. The contract was regularly renewed, usually some time before it was due to expire. But the 2007 final brought one of sport's longest sponsorship agreements to an end, Tennent's having invested more than 20 million to the SFA through their backing of the tournament. The company remained firmly involved with the SFA, however, having taken over from supermarket Morrison's as the main sponsors of the Scotland national teams in October 2006 in a deal worth more than 1 million a season.

A change of ownership, with Dublin brewers C & C Group acquiring Tennent's for 180 million last year, led to a change of emphasis, with the company announcing three months ago a three-year shirt sponsorship agreement with Celtic and Rangers. It also signalled the end of their SFA partnership.

It remains to be seen whether Tennent's enjoy the same benefit from their Old Firm link-up as they did from their wider involvement in the Scottish game. But the SFA can feel nothing but gratitude for the support shown by one of the country's most famous brand names for such a lengthy period.