Sunderland seal landmark shirt deal to promote Invest in Africa
Mon 25th Jun 2012 | Football Sponsorship
David Miliband has assured Sunderland fans that their "ground-breaking" African sponsorship deal is the biggest in the club's history.
The Black Cats on Monday morning announced details of a two-year partnership agreement with Invest in Africa which will see them display the not-for-profit organisation's logo on their shirts.
Africa's largest independent oil company, Tullow Oil, is the founding partner in an initiative which seeks to promote investment in the continent while at the same time opening up a huge new market to Sunderland.
Miliband, former Foreign Secretary and now the club's vice-president, said: "This is money for this season, it's the best deal in Sunderland's history, but we are not putting a figure on it because there are more companies that are going to join and as more companies join, the benefits will grow.
"As and when we publish accounts and show the details of our finances, you will see more detail of what this is bringing, but we are confident this is the best commercial deal in Sunderland's history.
"It will grow as more companies join Tullow Oil, because today we are issuing an invitation for other companies to join.
"I am sure that fans are asking, 'Is there money in it?', to which the answer is yes, and they will also be asking, 'Well, hang on, Invest in Africa, yes, but what about investing in Sunderland?'.
"It's really important to say in the modern world, investment in Africa is an opportunity for investment to bounce back into Sunderland and into the wider north-east.
"This is a big opportunity for wealth and jobs in our region as well as in the continent of Africa."
Owner and chairman Ellis Short, who described the deal as "ground-breaking" is confident that the link-up with Invest in Africa will help to secure the club's financial future.
Short said: "I am proud to be the guardian of a football club with such a strong foundation in the local community, with fantastic supporters and staff, all of whom have a passion to continue to grow and develop.
"We all want for the club to continue to prosper and to expand its global audience.
"The appointment last season of Martin O'Neill, this announcement today, we think are all additional evidence of our ambition to continue to improve.
"Tullow Oil, the initial founding partner of Invest in Africa, is a fantastic company, a big, successful well-run, reputable company and just the kind of company and people we want to be associated with going forward."
O'Neill was not present, but shared the owner's optimism in a short video message shown to guests.
He said: "Our ambition is to compete with the very best and the biggest clubs.
"This association with Invest in Africa, I think, will help us to go on to the international stage. Naturally, we want it to promote and enhance growth and development on the African continent.
"We will get benefit out of that as well and it will help us to be a really top club.
"The history of Sunderland Football Club is famous, great history, great culture, but the future is very, very important and we are hoping that both the club and Invest in Africa can share in each other's success and take it to a world-wide audience."
Invest in Africa aims to challenge the perception of Africa as a crisis-torn and poverty-stricken continent and persuade British companies to invest there.
And Aidan Heavey, chief executive of Tullow Oil, is convinced Sunderland's involvement will reap significant rewards.
He said: "There's a huge, growing population - the biggest young population on the planet is in Africa, and they are football-mad.
"Sunderland will become THE Premier League club in Africa. Everybody will be wearing the Sunderland shirt, every kid in every school will want a Sunderland shirt which says 'Invest in Africa', believe me.
"It will be the number one club, so what you are looking at is a huge market and huge exposure, and Sunderland will have that exposure."
Posted by: Kev Howland (@FCKev)
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