By Patrick Avenell

After 12 years as the major sponsor of the Penrith Panthers — the longest running sponsorship in the NRL — Sanyo has withdrawn from this partnership.

In a video message to Panthers fans, Sanyo Asia/Oceania Limited president and managing director Bill Crichton said this decision was a result of the global takeover of Sanyo by Panasonic.

“Regretfully, due to a takeover of our organisation recently, that sponsorship will now draw to a close,” Crichton told fans. “I’d like to thanks all of the Panthers fans that have helped make our brand what it is today.”

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Sanyo joined as sponsor of Penrith in 1999. At the time, the club was struggling to be competitive on the field, having not made the finals since winning the premiership in 1991*. Although the Panthers did play finals football in 2000, the club slumped to the wooden spoon in 2001 and again struggled in 2002.

Crichton and Sanyo remained loyal to the club through this dark period, and were rewarded when John Lang steered the club to an amazing Grand Final victory over the Roosters in 2003. That Grand Final remains one of the best football games of the NRL era.

Sanyo will also exit its sponsorship of the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants AFL team.

To see Crichton’s message in full and watch some great moments from Sanyo’s time with the Panthers, check out this video:

* does not recognise the 1997 Super League season, in which Penrith did make the finals, as a true rugby league competition.