According to a site called ‘Marketing’, Virgin are in talks with Newcastle United about a possible shirts and stadium sponsorship deal. The rumours about such a deal have been bubbling along for a while but I’ve never been sure how much strength there is in them.
Of course it was Virgin Money who took over Northern Rock, our previous sponsors, and I did just wonder if assumptions had been made because of that.
The ‘Marketing’ site stresses that no deal has actually been struck but they feel that Virgin Money are a likely fit for such sponsorship. They cornered an ‘executive’ from ‘brandRapport’ in the middle of his cheese sandwich and he had this to say:
“Virgin Money could benefit enormously from taking on the Newcastle shirt sponsorship. The passion and loyalty of the Newcastle fans is legendary and the fans could definitely see it as a very positive move and confirm Virgin Money’s commitment to the area.
“The Newcastle shirt is one of the most iconic, most recognised and highest-selling shirt in the Barclays Premier League.“
Assuming any of this is true I wonder how much Virgin – or any other interested company – would be willing to pay. A lot of the sponsorships held by current Premier League clubs were set up back before the bankers bust the world economy, so any comparisons we make against them will have to be adjusted according. However, in 2002 Manchester United secured nearly £303m over 13 years with Nike (£23.3m/year) for the shirts alone; in 2004 Arsenal got £100m over 15 years from Emirates for the stadium naming rights (£6.7m/year); and Chelsea supposedly negotiated a £10m/year shirts deal with Adidas in 2006.
I’m presuming we’d be considered a slightly lesser catch to a prospective sponsor than any of those teams. Add in the fact that the world is now poor and we’ve all had to sell our shoes and I reckon getting £10m/year for both shirts and stadium naming rights will be a push.
I know some fans think the ‘Sports Direct Arena’ is here to stay as free advertising for Ashley’s tat, but I tend to think he’d take a sponsorship deal if the money’s right.
If Virgin Money did sponsor us, I wonder if we’d be ‘The Virgin Arena’ or ‘The Virgin Money Arena’? Not that it matters to me as I’ll still be calling it St James’ Park, come what may.