West Brom will be on the hunt for new investors after Zoopla revealed it will be pulling its sponsorship of the club at the end of the 2013-14 campaign.
BBC Sport's Ben Smith announced on Jan. 20 that the agreement would end:
Zoopla announces it will end its sponsorship of WBA at the end of the current season.— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) January 20, 2014
Zoopla reportedly made the decision in relation to Nicolas Anelka's use of the quenelle gesture in December and any political or racial connotations that come with it.
According to The Guardian, Zoopla released the following statement:
Zoopla has worked closely with the club and the local community throughout its two-season sponsorship, having committed over £100,000 to the Albion Foundation and other local charities, and will continue to meet its obligations for the rest of the current season.
As the report mentions, Zoopla told the Baggies it would want its name removed from the team's jerseys immediately if Anelka played any part in Monday night's visit of Everton. West Brom later put Anelka in the starting lineup (via Rory Smith of The Times):
Nicolas Anelka starts for West Brom.— Rory Smith (@RorySmithTimes) January 20, 2014
The property website is owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, who is presumably one of those who sees an issue with the company holding any ties with someone of Anelka's apparent allegiances.
West Brom has since replied to the news, via Rob Harris of the Associated Press:
West Brom hit back at Zoopla,s aying was aware the sponsorship "could expire this summer & therefore has been planning accordingly" #Anelka— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 20, 2014
The club is also selling any shirts with the sponsorship on it at a 60 percent discount (via Squawka):
West Brom are selling their Zoopla shirts at 60% off in the club shop tonight after the sponsorship dispute. pic.twitter.com/3ZzXOfp8DT— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 20, 2014
The quenelle is a salute that has been linked to anti-Semitism in the past.
For his part, after initially making the hand-over-shoulder gesture against West Ham in December, Anelka posted on his Twitter account that the celebration was merely a "special dedication" for French comedian and personal friend Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala:
This gesture was just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonné— nicolas anelka (@anelkaofficiel) December 28, 2013
However, the tribute has had repercussions back in France. The Independent's John Lichfield reported earlier this month that the comic had seen the opening event of his French tour cancelled due to fears that the salute's fallout was "a threat to public order."
Zoopla has sponsored the West Midlands outfit since 2012, but it will not renew the deal once the current season comes to a close.
The Daily Mail's Joe Strange has hinted that Zoopla isn't likely to see any business affected by Anelka's involvement at the Hawthorns, regardless of what outrage his salute caused:
I'd guess that the amount of people who have avoided using Zoopla because of Anelka's gesture is somewhere around the 0 mark. #wba— Joe Strange (@joe_strange) January 20, 2014