British and Irish Lions secure £6-7m sponsorship deal

By Chris JonesBBC rugby union correspondent
The British and Irish Lions' last tour was in 2017, when they tied the three-game series against New Zealand

The British and Irish Lions have received a significant financial boost, understood to be £6-7m, after clinching a sponsorship deal with Vodafone.

It comes before next summer's tour of South Africa.

The deal is thought to be one of the biggest sponsor agreements struck in sport during the coronavirus pandemic.

It matches the £6.25m paid by Standard Life for the tour of New Zealand in 2017.

An industry insider added that it "shows the Lions brand is strong even in a pandemic".

The Lions confirmed earlier this month that the tour would proceed as planned in July and August 2021.

Vodafone's sponsorship of the Lions represents a split with the financial services sector, which has provided lead partners for the last four tours (Zurich in 2005, HSBC in 2009 and 2013 and Standard Life in 2017).