AN EISTEDDFOD sponsorship deal stretching back more than quarter of a century is being severed because funds are being redirected to the 2012 London Olympics.
Lloyds TSB has sponsored the Gymanfa Ganu Welsh hymn- singing event every year since 1979.
But last night it emerged that the National Eisteddfod has been told funding will not continue next year due to the bank’s financial commitment to the Olympics.
Critics who have long cast doubt on the Games’ financial impact beyond London yesterday rounded on the move.
Past Eisteddfod archdruid Robyn Lewis said, “If the bank were to divert its money to another worthy cause, such as poverty in the Third World, I would understand the situation and might well sympathise to some extent.
“But the London Olympic Games! There appears to be little sympathy or support for these forthcoming games in parts of Wales.
“Quite simply, our country will not be represented. To say that ‘British’ entries include Wales is to add insult to injury.
“The bank’s Eisteddfod sponsorship being withdrawn and diverted to so contentious an event outside Wales will, I believe, reflect very badly on the bank.
“I have been a customer of Lloyds TSB for many years. Hitherto, the bank has given every satisfaction in its handling of my affairs.
“Let me make myself quite clear. If Lloyds TSB persist, I shall have to consider my position as a customer from now on.”
However, current members of the National Eisteddfod appeared relaxed about the withdrawal of the sponsorship deal, which was worth £8,500 last year.
Dafydd Whittall, outgoing chairman for the Eisteddfod Council, said he was grateful for the support the bank had provided over the years. He confirmed that it was not yet known where an alternative source of sponsorship would come from.
The news was broken to Eisteddfod chief executive Elfed Roberts in a letter from the bank’s Wales area director Huw Morgan.
He wrote, “I’m very sorry to have to advise you that Lloyds TSB will not be supporting the Gymanfa Ganu next year.
“Unfortunately, there is not the budget available to allow us to continue our support for this event and I thought I should communicate this to you as soon as possible.
“I know you will be disappointed with this decision as indeed I am.
“The bank is now focusing its sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics which is a five-year plan with events to roll out between now and 2012.”
The bank last year made profits of £4.25bn, up 11% from 2005.
The economic benefits of the 2012 Olympics for the whole of the UK have regularly been heralded by the Government, with Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium scheduled as one of the venues for football events.
But the sponsorship withdrawal will provide further ammunition to critics who claim the massive funding aimed at the Olympics could be at the expense of UK areas outside London.
In March, the Western Mail reported that a re-jig of the costs of the Games meant £4.5m would come from the Arts Council of Wales budget and £4.1m from the Sports Council of Wales. Both figures were on top of the seven-figure sums the two bodies were already expected to contribute.
Last month, Plaid Cymru predicted the country would be robbed of £437m because of the event, the biggest in the sporting world.
They claimed “an absolute disgrace” that Wales, one of the poorest parts of the UK, would effectively be funding a massive regeneration project in London, officially the richest city in Europe.
And last month, the Football Association of Wales said it would fight plans to be incorporated into a Great Britain football team, saying Olympic representation under a Great Britain banner could jeopardise its sovereignty as a member of the Fifa football family.
No one from Lloyds TSB was available to comment last night.