Thursday, 9 June 2011

No thanks to our sponsors

Hull City's unveiling of the club's new sponsors has caused something of a stir among fans.  Shouldn't they just be grateful they've got someone willing to invest?

Normally when a new kit is unveiled, it's the design that gets the first panning from supporters.  Indeed, a year ago I remember the howls of protest greeting the first Adidas- produced Hull City strip since the days of "Mike Smith's Super Black & Amber Army".
This time around, however, that appears not to be the case.  The general consensus is that the bold black and amber striped affair is a step up from last season's effort.  However, the choice of sponsor appears to have got Tigers fans sharpening their claws.  
Let's ignore the fact that for the first time in their history the Club has gained the backing of an international company and let's not even consider the size of the package, said by Chief Executive Mark Maguire to be "the biggest sponsorship deal in the Club's history in terms of the commercial gain".
Instead, according to many of those voicing their opinions on Twitter, the various City-related message boards and local radio phone-ins, the unveiling of Cash Converters as the new backers is far from being cause for celebration.
Apparently, the image of the Australian company as "glorified loansharks" and one that "encourages people getting fleeced" is not one the club or even the city of Kingston-upon-Hull needs right now (although I must admit to thinking that in its own way, previous sponsors Totesport could also be accused on this second count!).
For my part I can't get too excited about it.  In fact, when you've followed a team previously sponsored by "Twydale Turkeys" (and which also once had "Humberside" emblazoned across its shirts) Cash Converters doesn't seem that bad at all!  Does that make me of low moral fibre?  Maybe so.
At this juncture, I would also venture to point out that had a sponsor of, shall we say, "higher credibility" been unveiled on the new shirt, many of those same people castigating City on their choice of backer may well have been rushing off to Tiger Leisure as soon as they became available.  My bet is that they would have done so without giving a thought for how that shirt actually made it to the store.  Regardless of the sponsors name, the product itself would almost certainly have originated from some Asian "sweat shop" at a cost nowhere near the £40 price tag each adult version will eventually search for.  Is that not being slightly hypocritical?  
In the so-called "beautiful game" of ours you don't have to look very far for real examples of people at the bottom end getting "financially screwed".  Does the addition of another sponsor accused of doing the same in their line of business make such a difference? 
In any case, surely Tigers owner Assem Allam has earned the right to have his judgment on such things trusted given the money he himself has just ploughed into ensuring there was actually a club in the city for Cash Converters to sponsor.  And what if he was head of Cash Converters and not Allam Marine?  Would the fans have said no to his £40M "bail-out" last year?  I doubt it.
Another "tweeter" asked why "locally based big companies" like Smith & Nephew, Reckitts or BP couldn't be the club's main sponsors.  Well, frankly, because they're not interested.  Harsh but true.
Even at local grassroots level, where sponsorship packages are available for a small fraction of the deal currently being publicised at the KC Stadium, backers are hard to come by in these austere times.  I should know - I've spent the past six months trying to secure a new kit deal for our First Team and Reserves without so much as a whiff of interest.
At the end of the day it simply boils down to the likes of Easington United taking whatever crumbs of sponsorship come our way - its our version of what Hull City would term "getting the best deal for the Club".  And Mark Maguire certainly feels he's done that with Cash Converters.  
It's perhaps also worth bearing in mind that not all press associated with our new found sponsor, whose origins were as a single store in Perth, Western Australia back in 1984, is negative.  The company already boasts an association with The Ashes and The FA Cup Final, as well as embracing the excellent "Dreams Come True" as their adopted charity means.  That's not bad company for Hull City AFC to be in, is it?  
Speaking on Radio Humberside, Maguire acknowledged fans' concerns and stated he'd spoken to one of their message board spokesmen (Amber Nectar) to try and allay them.  Whether he has done will only be reflected in the sales figures.
For my part, I'll not buy one but that's nothing to do with the sponsor or the design.  It's simply that I've finally ackowledged that 45 is an age by which one should have grown out of trying to look good in something ultimately designed with somebody twenty years younger in mind! 
Now, if the people at Cash Converters are looking to get involved with a progressive, forward-thinking grassroots football club...


The Rambler said...

With the money Hull are getting from Cash Converters they can continue to buy more Leicester City players!!!!!

REALITY uncovered said...

Excellent article Rich, eloquent and to the point.

I've sold stuff to Cash Converters in the past, I suppose that makes me a smackhead and a thief in the eyes of some... ;)

Why are they treated in a different light than other second-hand shops or pawnbrokers? Even Asda now buy second-hand games so are they also pandering to the criminal community in offering an easy way for them to sell their ill-gotten gains? Madness.

As for being loan sharks, the real loan sharks are the people who come knocking on your door asking if you want to borrow some money to help you through the hard times. It's not as if Cash Converters are press ganging people into their stores and forcing people to borrow money is it?

They provide a service, a service that is sadly needed by many with times as hard as they are.

Mind you, with all that said, opposing fans are going to have a field day with it.

So what's new.