TORONTO, ON – The Toronto Star reports that the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled the North American sponsorship deal signed by Molson Coors and the National Hockey League in February to be legally binding.
In June, Ontario Superior Court judge Frank Neubold ruled in favour of Labatt, who had sued with a claim that the NHL had reneged on a deal with them in order to sign with Molson Coors. The latter company filed an appeal soon afterward, leading to today’s ruling.
In a statement, Molson Coors Canada President and CEO Dave Perkins says that the company “feels vindicated by Ontario Court of Appeal’s ruling today to reinstate our NHL sponsorship and are thrilled to be able to pursue our aspiration of delighting fans of the NHL this season and beyond”.
Assuming the terms of the deal remain the same as originally planned, it will see Molson Coors in Canada and MillerCoors in the US be official beer sponsors of the NHL for seven years, with an estimated value of US$375 million.
UPDATE: Labatt has responded to the ruling with a statement in which it attributes the Court of Appeal’s decision to “a procedural error made by the Superior Court,” and indicates that it will continue to “pursue its legal rights vigorously” during an expected Superior Court rehearing.
UPDATE 2: As expected, Labatt has requested a rehearing, putting the deal back on hold.