Examples from rugby league and AFL show us that sponsors should not be owners and sponsors should not control boards of sporting teams.
The NRL Newcastle Knights Board is currently responding to Coke withholding a new deal till it sorts club discipline. This will require the Board to be creative and balance the needs of fans, the financial position of the club and the needs of the sponsor. The NRL will also provide advice. Options can be given that may change the sponsor(s) views.
Another example is the AFL team Brisbane Lions. Like Brisbane Roar, they face a challenge to their fan base with the entry of a rival Gold Coast team from the same code. Instead of reacting after the team arrived in the competition and saying 'gee what what are we going to do now 5,000 of our fans have gone to the coast' (or in their case 10,000), they have got in early. The AFL is very pragmatic. It does not have to worry about other vested interests (like the A-League has to worry about FIFA and AFC). So the Brisbane Lions know that the AFL will manipulate things so that the new coast team wins a couple of flags in its opening years (after all this happened for the Lions). To counter this and protect its fan base, the Lions have made some decisions that will not necessarily be popular with sponsors in the short term. Enter Brendan Fevola.
In some ways the people who go to live sporting events, from the ancient Romans on, actually like, perhaps expect, certainly encourage, bad player behaviour - particularly on the field.
Just maybe a Board that represented fans - or at least maximising their numbers - may have made different decisions for Brisbane Roar. Charlie Miller may still be there. For me, different Board decisions and the fan numbers would be much larger. And the results would be better.