At the end of last week Virgin Media and 888sport both announced that they would be assisting travelling fans of the clubs they sponsor – are sponsors becoming more than just names on a shirt?
Southampton’s new shirt sponsors Virgin Media will be laying on free coach travel for season ticket holders travelling to Old Trafford for their Friday night fixture next month. 888sport, who sponsor Nottingham Forest, will be doing likewise for their Tuesday night trip down to Griffin Park to take on Brentford on the 16th August.
Virgin Media’s wish to be more than just a name on the Southampton shirts seems to have been an important part of the club’s decision to adopt them.
“Virgin Media’s desire to put our fans at the heart of what they do was a key factor in the decision to partner with them,” said Gareth Rogers, Southampton chief executive.
“We are delighted that Virgin Media has made such a generous offer to help as many fans as possible attend what is sure to be a fantastic match.”
As well as providing free coach travel for season ticket holders travelling to Old Trafford, Virgin Media have subsidised the cost of the match ticket beyond the Premier League-wide £30 cap – meaning adult fans will pay just £20 and under-16s as little as £10.
Kerris Bright, Virgin Media’s marketing officer said: “We think that Saints fans deserve a helping hand both on travel and ticket costs to support the team on the first away game of the season.”
At Forest, the club had previously offered coach travel to fans heading down to Brighton away and 888sport will be repeating for the Brentford fixture following its success – with another eight coaches expected to fill up.
Fans target sponsors
Over the last 18-months fans have begun to target sponsors in their efforts to make football more affordable.
During our Twenty’s Plenty campaign supporter organisations have lobbied their club sponsors to back the initiative.
On Merseyside, our affiliates the Blue Union and Spirit of Shankly met with Barclay’s, the former headline sponsor of the Premier League, to use its clout to support action on ticket prices. Even the mega-sponsors of FIFA, such as Coca-Cola, Adidas and Sony have been targeted by fans eager to seek reform of the governing body.
What is your sponsor doing?
Sponsors are no doubt looking to gain kudos from being associated with our football clubs as they have a unique place and recognition in our communities. So how can supporters benefit from this?
Sponsors want the credibility and audience associated with a vibrant fan culture – they have to do their part and support match-going fans to ensure its survival.
Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this blog.