Date: 15th September 2009 at 2:37am
Written by:

…Is It No Cost At All?

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an attempt to belittle or be negative about our free sponsorship of Acorns, this is purely to point out the kind of financial benefit that Villa have chosen to forego, in order to achieve something far greater, something that money cannot buy.

I don’t know of a single fan who objects to the decision taken by Randy and the board, and as we all know it speaks volumes about the kind of people we now have in charge of our club.

Deciding to forego shirt sponsorship in order to publicise a charity such as Acorns was unheard of in the money bags realm of the Premier League, and whilst a few have attempted to follow our lead in that respect, no other club has managed to maintain their dignity or loyalty to keeping the shirt free of a sponsor.

In fact according to the Daily Mail our near neighbours and Martin O’Neill’s former club Leicester City had decided to forego shirt sponsorship to celebrate their 125th anniversary, yet as soon as the BBC made the decision to screen Championship matches this season, the Foxes clinched a deal with Jessops to advertise on the back of their strips to take advantage of the increased audience figures.

Some fans were less than impressed, but in the money driven football world we now live in, you can hardly blame clubs at all levels, let alone those below the Premiership, from taking advantage of every marketing and sales opportunity they can. In some cases, and for many clubs it can be the difference between financial problems and breaking even.

That’s the football world we now live in, where everything has a price. From player sponsorships to wear multi coloured boots, rotating advertisement hoardings in the ground, Stadium sponsorship, even down to advertising opportunities in the match day program where it appears only office staff and Doris the Tea lady are immune from being branded for money.

Once you look at the football world we now unfortunately live in, and you think further to the ridiculous wages paid to footballers for kicking a ball around, considering they aren’t actually saving lives, or the obscene transfer fees players now move for and some have trouble keeping a roof over their heads, most fans probably think the cost to Villa, the direct loss of a revenue stream by advertising Acorns is small fry when compared to the multitude of other marketing options.

Yes it is, in the grand scheme of things shirt sponsorship on it’s own now would probably subsidise one players wages if they earn 40-50 grand a week. It is small fry for a club of Villa’s size, or it would’ve been based on previous shirt sponsorship deals prior to Randy first taking over.

When you consider the figures Villa could now (within reason of course) negotiate for with potential shirt sponsors, the loss of that stream ceases to be small fry in the running of the club, and actually shows the price our owner and board are prepared to pay to achieve something far more real than 22 blokes kicking a ball around a pitch.

We have given Acorns an unprecedented boost in terms of their media profile. We all know at the beginning there were a few teething troubles because many believed we were supporting them financially which we aren’t doing directly, although we obviously help when we have the collections and the like. So especially during the current economy when free cash is a luxury many families don’t have, having Acorns so prominently displayed around the country will have been, and will continue to be a Godsend for them.

We already know how grateful those at Acorns are for the support and promotion they have been given so far and it’s to the clubs credit that given the potential sums involved they have been willing to maintain the relationship.

Many of you will be wondering what sparked this, and more importantly will be curious about the potential losses to our revenue.

Well Villa have never been one of the highest earners from shirt sponsorships in previous years, I’m not sure if official figures are available in old accounts – I can neither be bothered to check and nor is my memory that good any longer – but our last deal with 32Red was stated as being a seven figure sum for the two years. Rumours abounded as memory serves that it came to about £1.2 million for the period of the deal, a modest £600,000 per season.

And even in the current money mad world that figure wouldn’t be scoffed at. According to the Daily Mail Portsmouth’s shirt deal nets them only £250,000. Our neighbours, who are 15th in the table and no doubt still suffering from Gabby’s wonder header, pick up £600,000 a season and right where you’d expect them to be, top of the table currently, Manchester United reportedly receive £14,125,000 a season given their deal with insurance giant AIG.

In fact 12 clubs in the top flight command annual shirt sponsorship fees in excess of £1 million a year.

But when you consider over the past few seasons we’ve been back in Europe, challenging the Top 4, we have a well respected owner and a very media friendly and savvy manager in Martin O’Neill, it would not be a stretch to believe those working at the club now couldn’t get us a shirt deal in excess of Blackburn (£1.5), or Sunderland (£2.6). Even Everton manage according to the Daily Mail figures to recoup £2.6 a season.

Most surprising is actually Fulham in 7th place with a whopping £4 million per annum.

I think it would be safe to assume that given our growth over the previous 38ish months we would at least be in that ballpark. Even Arsenal, Manchester City and Spurs are tied in 4th place at £5 million a piece.

Those are surely our rivals for league positions so financially we’d have to be in that area in terms of strength of negotiating.

There’s a huge difference between those sorts of potential figures for shirt sponsorship and the ‘few’ hundred thousand we normally recouped.

But the bigger you are, the better you get it. Now it’s clear we aren’t on the same level as Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool.

Chelsea are in fact the new minnows in the Top three actually receiving only £13 million a year (only £13 million!!).

Manchester United have already secured a new 4 year deal with American giant Aon Corp which will see them receive £20 million a season in return for the shirt space, and Liverpool have recently joined them after agreeing a similar deal with Standard Chartered bank.

So although our altruism in no way sees us fail to capitalise on those sorts of ‘dream’ figures, the area of £5 million a season is a decent wedge, especially when you consider Randy has invested heavily since taking over.

We all know the figures spent on the first team, we can all do the sums when it comes to repairing the Holte, cleaning up the ground, Bodymoor etc.

In the region of £5 million would go a long way in helping offset that investment.

But we don’t. We run a two year free promotion for Acorns, our local charity. It could even become three years we just don’t know. But going off the figures listed by the Daily Mail, it’s safe to assume that the deal so far has seen the club pass up the opportunity of earning anywhere between £5-10 million over the past 24 months.

It ceases to be small change when you look at it from that perspective, but what it does do is show the club in an even better light in terms of the potential sacrifice we have made in order to achieve something far greater, something that money cannot buy.

The benefits for Acorns are obvious. I’d say the benefits for Villa are equally as obvious. There’s one thing, not even a 4 year, £20 million a season deal can get you…and that is class.

To see the full report, and the full shirt sponsor table please Click HERE

Some very interesting observations in the article surrounding the influx of betting companies to the front of football shirts aswell – if that sort of thing floats your boat.

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To take part in the Vital Villa Acorns 450 Challenge please, please Click HERE