HYNDBURN Council has pulled out of its controversial £45,000 shirt sponsorship deal with Accrington Stanley after less than a year.
It is believed to be making way for a major retail outlet that is expected to plough a much bigger sum into the club.
And the council says it will still sponsor two games a year, as well as providing training facilities for the Reds and co-operating on running soccer schools.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe stressed there had been no falling-out with the club and no change of heart.
But the U-turn will save the cash-strapped council £30,000 on the three-year deal.
The sponsorship was widely attacked by some opposition Labour members who said it was no business of a council to give financial backing to a football club.
One of them, Councillor Tim O'Kane, said yesterday: "This is a monumental U-turn and begs a big question of Peter Britcliffe's leadership. It should have been done sooner because they ought to have been honest with the public."
He added: "It's probably great for Stanley because they can get a better sponsor. But it's annoying for fans who always want the latest shirt."
And Councillor Dave Parkins, a long-established critic of the deal, said: "I think it is an election ploy. We have put so much pressure on the Tories that they have caved in and fallen on their own sword."
But an unrepentant Councillor Britcliffe said: "The deal was very beneficial for us both, with Hyndburn's name emblazoned on shirts that have had a lot of television coverage. We have had extremely good value for money."
He added that the savings would be spent on area councils.
Stanley chairman Eric Whalley said: "The council has had its problems and since being promoted to the Conference we have had lots of interest from people wanting to become more involved. We are still looking to work with the council though and we must stress there is no fall-out. It's a mutually beneficial move forward."