A Question of Aston Villa Shirt Sponsorship
As well as being in the chase for the best young players this preseason to continue Paul Lambert’s evolution of the club, Aston Villa again enter the tussle for EPL sponsorship with the current shirt-sponsor Genting’s two-year deal coming to an end.
“We believe this will be a good and positive partnership for the club and it reflects our continued growth…and we anticipate that it will work well as we embark on a new chapter for Aston Villa,” said Paul Faulkner, at the time of signing up a two-year £16 million deal with Malaysian casino form Genting.
The Genting years though won’t be too fondly remembered by Aston Villa supporters though . Two relegation battles, a total of nine home wins in those two seasons, and the nightmare McLeish season that saw supporter spirits at an all-time low. Every EPL sponsor though would like to be associated with success, although Gentings main motivation was perhaps to build brand awareness for their plan to build a casino and leisure complex at the National Exhibition Centre which was projected to open in 2015.
Whether it be Genting or 32Red.com, the Villa sponsor of a few years ago, there’s always a little uneasiness about the ethics of having gambling companies sponsoring football clubs, when you consider younger supporters. Okay, the logo isn’t emblazoned across minor’s replica shirts, but kids obviously see it every time they go to a game or watch matches on TV.
For Villa, it’s sliding down the hill a bit, after having the moral high ground of Randy Lerner’s decision to promote the Acorns Children’s Hospice charity on the Villa shirt, when he first came to the club. It was a first in terms of EPL sponsorship – a club giving up the prime advertising placement real estate of the club’s shirt for a charitable cause. What the club lost in forfeiting a few million, it gained in positive PR and supporter approval. It also offered up a nice simple and aesthetically pleasing logo too.
But money is money, and in the case of the £16 million Genting’s deal, one-year of that would have covered Benteke & Westwood’s transfer fees alone. In the current economic climate of EPL sponsorship, it’ll be interesting to see if Villa can strike a deal to match Gentings. For example, in contrast, at the start of the 2004/5 season, the DWS Investment shirt sponsorship deal was worth £1.5 million a season.
Betting and casino companies obviously are a direct fit for EPL sponsorship due to the demographic of the audience and the hand-in-glove nature of sports and betting.
Any company that can stump up millions for EPL sponsorship is hardly going to be a leading humanitarian organization; it’s the nature of the beast!
Interestingly, Gentings two-year term is typical of the duration of most Aston Villa shirt sponsors – NTL, Rover, 32Red, DWS Investments and LDV Vans all settled for a two-year contract and never extended.
Only AST Computers and Mita have had longer sponsorship contracts.
There maybe a reason for that though, as the Financial Times in 2009 suggested, there was a curse connected to Villa shirt sponsorship, with the failure of six out of the nine companies associated with the club since 1982, prior to the Acorns Deal in 2008.
The brewer Davenports and Mita Copiers – sponsors of the team for a decade between 1983 and 1993 – are no longer in business.
‘Next was Müller, the German food maker, which continues to thrive,’ stated the newspaper. ‘But then came the darkest period for commercial partners as its next four sponsors – AST Computers, vanmaker LDV, cable company NTL and carmaker Rover – all eventually foundered by either abandoning production, entering administration, or both.’
Post 2004, both Deutsche Bank’s DWS Investments and online bookmaker 32Red are still trading, so at least Genting can breathe a sigh of relief that the trend seems to have been bucked.
If some Villa fans are starting to panic with the lack of Villa sponsor entering preseason, Genting didn’t sign-up until late June. So, there’s plenty of time.
So, with that in mind, who would be the perfect Villa sponsor from a supporter’s point-of-view? What factors do you take on board?
Quality of brand? Type of industry? How the logo looks? Or is it simply all about the money it brings to the club?
Or maybe, a company to relate to the youthful nature of the team at the moment? Mothercare or the Early Learning Centre, anyone?
MOMS Past Aston Villa Shirt Sponsors Awards
Longest Running – Mita [Copiers] – 10 seasons – most of them dark times, including a relegation
MOMS Favourite – Acorns. Made Aston Villa pioneers in the Premiership, a noble gesture in an industry where only money seems to talk.
MOMS Favourite Design – Muller – we won the League Cup, the logo was displayed on that funky green away kit and the Villa players got a year’s free supply of Muller yogurts.
MOMS Most Boring Sponsor – DWS Investments – Who? No novelty value either…well, apart from opposition fans ‘mooing’ us. Remember that?
MOMS Eye Sore Sponsor – NTL . The combo of NTL and Diadora kits just seemed tacky.
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