Sponsorship is ubiquitous in modern football. The shirt, billboards, the stadium and even the players themselves have some form of endorsement related to them.
Football, especially from the football league upwards is a business and we are under no illusion of this, highlighted by the fact a place in the Premier League is worth at least £120 million to each club next season.
However, in spite of this, there is still the notion amongst fans that clubs mean more than just business, as a philosophy, a way of life. Anyone who's been to a game and sparked a connection with a team will remember the dizzy heights and devastating lows of supporting a club.
No matter how many highs or lows created from supporting your team, there exists a general consensus the level of dignity and proudness of being involved with and wearing chosen team colours may never falter.
Imagine a time when the fans where no longer proud to wear their favourite teams jersey? In recent times the issue of sponsorship has been evident to isolate the fans in some high profile cases.
It was announced championship outfit Bolton Wanderers had signed a two year deal for payday loan company QuickQuid to be their principal sponsor for the next two years, local MP Julie Hilling condemned it as a "sad day for the club" saying the industry "expolits vulnerable people who need money."
Some of the clubs fans posted on Facebook they were disgusted, embarrassed, with a portion calling for a boycott of next season’s kit.
Wonga, another payday loan company sponsor Newcastle United in the Premier League, along with Hearts in the SPL and Blackpool in the Championship, all of which were met with stiff opposition from respective fans, not to mention the very unpopular short term decision from Newcastle United to change their ground name to Sports Direct Arena.
Upon signing the agreement with Quickquid yesterday Bolton Chairman Phil Gartside commented:
"Their energy and enthusiasm to help develop initiatives in collaboration with the Community Trust, and to support education and other sporting opportunities in and around Bolton has been extremely refreshing."
Whilst morality questions are raised by certain sponsorship deals on one hand from the fans, surely their financial support to the clubs cannot be discounted. As mentioned earlier, we already know football is a business, even the competitions in which the clubs compete in are sponsored themselves.
Without endorsement many clubs could end up in severe financial trouble, raising the difficult question, do morals matter in football sponsorship?
Barcelona, one of if not the biggest club in Europe avoided corporate shirt sponsorship at altogether until 2006, when they announced the decision of appointing a five year deal with the charity UNICEF. However, even the mighty Catalonians now emblazes a corporate sponsor on their shirt.
So, should there be limits or restrictions on certain companies being able to sponsor clubs or is it just something we should deal with as part of the modern game and a major contributor to the sport we love? Would it be enough to make you turn your back on your club?
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