Vodafone has revealed that it has withdrawn its long-standing, $6.1m-per-year sponsorship of the England cricket team in response to the current worldwide economic slump - but insists that its support of McLaren-Mercedes' Formula 1 outfit remains secure.

The telecommunications giant also plans to end its backing of football's Champions League, following a wide-ranging review of its sports deals.

Commercial director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, John Perera, reckons that such a move will prove to be merely the tip of the iceberg as the global credit crunch forces companies to increasingly rein in their expenditure.

"Cricket and most other major sports have had a very successful run in marketing and commercial terms in the last five or ten years," he told British newspaper the Daily Telegraph. "This is the first downturn in the period."

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