The Scottish Professional Football League is finally set to clinch a new sponsor as the game’s top flight comes to the end of a two-year barren spell without a backer.
Scott Steedman, the SPFL’s commercial director, insists there is “no way” that a new deal won’t be signed and sealed for next season.
The Clydesdale Bank told SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster as far back as November, 2011, that they would not be renewing their £2 million-per year sponsorship contract with the elite division when it expired in 2013.
However, he failed to find a replacement and clubs have lost revenue, with Kilmarnock revealing last week that their budget for next season would be cut “significantly.” Clydesdale Bank’s original deal in 2007 was worth between £1 million and £2 million per season to the Scottish Premier League.
Doncaster claimed that the merger of the Scottish Football League and the SPL two years ago would make it easier to find companies willing to invest in the Scottish game.
However, Steedman, who left his job as Southampton’s marketing director to take up his job at Hampden 12 months ago, claims that the future is about to get brighter.
Whether or not Rangers come through the play-offs won’t affect negotiations because we are not selling the Old FirmScott Steedman
“I am confident that we will have someone in place,” he said. “There is no reason why that should not happen.
“We are in talks with several companies, some of which are at different stages than others. It’s not a bad position to be in and I would say that there is no way we won’t have a new sponsor announced fairly soon.
“Whether or not Rangers come through the play-offs won’t affect negotiations because we are not selling the Old Firm – we are selling a 42-club solution.
“Breaking up the four divisions is not an issue. The new sponsor will cover the SPFL in its entirety, which will obviously include Rangers.
“To be honest, the excitement generated by the play-offs last year – which we expect will be repeated this season – have been beneficial in trying to sell our game to potential investors.”
Steedman admits he has been as frustrated as our cash-strapped clubs by the time it has taken to bring more money to the table.
“From previous experience, I’ve found it normally takes around a year to put something of this magnitude in place,” he said.
“When I came up last year I had less than two months in which to find a sponsor for this season and I almost pulled a rabbit out of the hat, only for it to fall through at the last minute. That was unlucky.
“However, we’ve been working hard since then. There have been many meetings and presentations during that period.
“Ideally, the new company will help us market the game but things are looking up and the commercial landscape around Scottish football will soon be looking very different.”