Glasgow Warriors seek new shirt sponsor after call centre pulls plug on deal
GLASGOW Warriors will go into the new season in a fortnight without a main shirt sponsor.
The team’s sponsor of the past three years has been Response, the Glasgow-based call centre firm. However, after losing a major contract with Sky TV the company declined to extend the deal after it expired this summer. That may actually be a blessing in disguise if Glasgow can find a new sponsor as the Response contract was not worth a significant amount to the club after being negotiated on the back of Sir David Murray’s agreement to sponsor the national team in 2007. He stepped in to help his former employee Gordon McKie, the then SRU chief executive, when The Famous Grouse walked away and McKie’s efforts to find a Scotland jersey sponsor proved fruitless.
It came with less revenue than The Famous Grouse invested and with the quid pro quo that when Glasgow’s shirt deal was up the Warriors be used to help promote Response, one of Murray’s fledgling businesses. Response became enthusiastic supporters of the Warriors from 2009, but did little to boost the coffers.
Glasgow Warriors chief executive Nathan Bombrys declined to comment on the value of the Response deal, but confirmed that it was at an end and that the Warriors would not have a name on the front of their jerseys when the season kicks off at the end of the month.
He said: “On behalf of everyone at Glasgow Warriors, I’d like to thank Response for their investment and support as the club’s principal sponsor over the last three years.
“We are working hard to secure another main sponsor who will partner with us to help deliver growth and success for Glasgow Warriors for the foreseeable future. We are focussed on identifying and engaging the right partner to contribute to that development. This is a process that takes time, from both perspectives, and is a partnership that we want to get right as it is important to the future development of the club.
“With the move to a first-class integrated playing and training base at Scotstoun Stadium, significant investment in the squad from Scottish Rugby [SRU], record season ticket membership sales and a genuine belief that we can challenge for honours, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved with Glasgow Warriors.”
The SRU has found attracting serious sponsorship a major challenge in recent years, with the economic downturn shrinking an already small Scottish pool of sports investors. The SRU also cost itself income with poor relations with sponsors as well as under-selling some products and over-pricing others.
Under new chief executive Mark Dodson the structure within Murrayfield has changed with Dominic McKay adding commercial (sponsorship) and marketing duties to his director of communications and public affairs role. The SRU has recently hired a leading sponsorship manager from RBS and sought independent advice on the value of sponsorships across Scottish rugby.
Glasgow are not short of suitors after another top-four finish in the league with three more new names due to be unveiled in the next few weeks to join a stable that already houses The Famous Grouse, McCrea Financial Services, QBE, PV Solar, The Malcolm Group, The Greenbelt Group and hotel chains Hotel Du Vin and Malmaison, but they are now pushing for the kind of money from a main sponsor that can help to maintain the increasing investment in the squad. Dodson lifted the SRU’s budget funding of the Warriors’ playing staff from £3 million to £4.2m this year in an effort to help the team push for silverware in the PRO12 and Heineken Cup, but has done so largely from making savings elsewhere in the SRU operation.
Supporters are backing the Warriors and the shift to Scotstoun Stadium, with season ticket sales passing the old record of 1,100 last month – they are double last season’s figure – and fuelling a hope that they could reach 2,000 before the new season kicks off. As a result, despite the potential for embarrassment as the only PRO12 club without a main shirt sponsor, Bombrys believes that the time is right to push for a more lucrative deal, even if that means waiting until the season kicks off.
“As part of a new Scottish Rugby-wide commercial strategy tied to an ambitious strategic plan, independent analysis has been carried out as to the value of the main sponsor title,” he added. “Glasgow Warriors and Scottish Rugby are absolutely determined to achieve the appropriate values and sponsorship fit to enhance the club’s growing profile and appeal.”
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