Clubs in Leagues 1 and 2 of The Football League have received an early Christmas present following the announcement that Johnstone's Paint has renewed its sponsorship of The Johnstone's Paint Trophy for a further three seasons.
The announcement was made at Wembley Stadium, with the release of thousands of multi-coloured balloons to symbolise Johnstone's commitment to 'bringing colour to the beautiful game' through until 2014/15, extending the premium paint brand's association with The Football League to nine years - the longest sponsorship in the competition's 29-year history.
In welcoming the deal, Football League Chairman Greg Clarke said: "I am delighted that we have extended our successful sponsorship with Johnstone's Paint.
"They have worked extremely hard to help us raise this competition's public profile and popularity with supporters. I look forward to further strengthening our relationship during this next stage of our partnership."
The Johnstone's Paint Trophy has gone from strength to strength during the first six seasons of the sponsorship following a package of reforms designed to raise the appeal of the competition. Changes included the scrapping of extra-time, increased regionalisation in early rounds and a renewed commitment from clubs to fielding first-team sides in matches.
For clubs in Leagues 1 and 2, the Johnstone's Paint Trophy continues to offer the opportunity of a dream final at Wembley Stadium and for Johnstone's the sponsorship has developed brand strength and visibility.
Johnstone's Paint Marketing Director, Jason Metcalf, believes the sponsorship has created a huge buzz across the brand's network of Decorating Centres and thousands of independent stockists, which have benefitted from a host of football themed community projects and ticket giveaways. He said: "More than five million fans have watched Johnstone's Paint Trophy matches, in grounds and on television, since the sponsorship began and Johnstone's Paint has also engaged with up to two million people through numerous community projects.
"So with this in mind, it is clear to see why we are all so thrilled to be extending our sponsorship. It has been one of our biggest success stories and we couldn't be happier to be reinforcing our relationship with the clubs and their legions of fans."
Successful community projects include a search to honour selfless non-league managers in 2010, along with a competition for young bloggers to write about their teams' trophy exploits last season.
A shirt amnesty for World Emergency Relief in 2009 - where communities in South Africa were given hundreds of football shirts to train and play in - was also a resounding triumph.
Johnstone's Paint also present a number of popular, long standing awards which continue to generate huge interest amongst fans, including the regular Ultimate Finish and Team of the Round trophies which are presented after each round of the competition.
The extension of the Johnstone's Paint contract coincides with the brand's 125th anniversary in 2015. Jason Metcalf added: "Johnstone's has a long history as a professional trade brand and has been at the forefront of the UK paint market since 1890, so it will be a particularly memorable occasion to celebrate this double milestone in 2015."