Alex Smith– Alexander Smith is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

People are up in arms about bankers receiving bonuses when the banks they worked for have gone down the pan. But isn’t it just as shocking that so many state-backed financial firms still subsidize the eye-popping wages of sporting superstars through rich sponsorship deals?

It’s the same story on both sides of the Atlantic. Citigroup, which received $45 billion from the U.S. government, is sticking with a $400 million marketing deal from 2006 which includes the naming rights for the new home of the New York Mets baseball team, which will be called Citi Field.

Meanwhile Royal Bank of Scotland announced it had renewed its sponsorship of the 6 Nations rugby competition last month, only 10 days after reporting the biggest loss in British corporate history. And it continues to sponsor the Williams Formula 1 team, a sport known for eating up tens of millions a year.

There is indeed a strange correlation between failed companies and sporting sponsorships.
Manchester United sponsor American International Group (AIG), Newcastle United supporter Northern Rock and failed British bank Bradford & Bingley, which sponsored not one but two soccer clubs, Bradford City FC and Barnet FC, have all crashed spectacularly since during the credit crisis.