America's Cup defender Team New Zealand has found itself at the centre of another off-water spat, this time with key event sponsor Prada over media accreditation.
The Italian fashion giant has taken over running the media operation for this month's America's Cup World Series event and January's Challenger series after a dispute over which media should be accredited.
In a statement to media last night, Prada claimed Team New Zealand had threatened to deny accreditation on the basis of articles deemed by the Defender to be unpleasant or inaccurate, a stance which Prada did not share.
"Prada wants to preserve the freedom of the press and has therefore taken the decision to run this procedure independently, in order to guarantee a fair and unbiased screening of the applicants, regardless of their opinions and based exclusively on strict professional criteria and/or for security reasons," the statement said.
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Prada are the naming rights sponsor for the two regattas and of Challenger of Record Luna Rossa. Racing begins in the pre-Christmas regatta with all four teams, on December 17.
In the build up to the America's Cup, Team New Zealand and NZ Herald publisher NZME have been in the High Court, with Team NZ successfully challenging a bid by NZME to publish allegations laid by a sacked contractor part-way through an audit process.
The audit ultimately found the allegations unproven - the Government said in August that a report cleared Team NZ of misappropriating public funds, as a dispute over a $3 million design fee continued.
In a joint statement in August, Team NZ, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Auckland Council said the report by forensic accountants Beattie Varley found there was "no financial impropriety of any nature".
However, it was revealed that Team NZ was in dispute with MBIE over the way the team charged ACE $3m to design the boats for next year's regatta. Beattie Varley said Team NZ's record keeping meant it could not verify how the team had calculated the fee which was being charged to taxpayers.
"The lack of an appropriate time-recording system within [Team New Zealand] prevented any objective verification of the amount that was ultimately recharged to ACE [event operators America's Cup Event Ltd]."