Football club offers new model of sponsorship

Stirling Albion FC: Offering naming rights on the club
Stirling Albion FC: Offering naming rights on the club

Stirling Albion has become the first Scottish football club to offer brand naming rights in a move some observers say marks a general shift away from traditional sponsorship agreements.

The Scottish Football League Championship Second Division side is seeking partners to take naming rights for both the club and its Forthbank Stadium as it looks to secure the investment necessary to buy the club from its current chairman.

Stadium naming rights are not uncommon in Britain with Bolton Wanderers, Arsenal and Leicester City handing the stadium’s name to Reebok, Emirates and Walkers respectively.

However, handing a club’s name to a sponsor is rare with only a handful of examples in the Welsh League, which saw Welsh Premier League side Llansantffraid FC rename itself Total Network Solutions Llansantffraid FC in 1996. A year later it became Total Network Solutions FC.

The practice is more common in the US, where a number of Major League Soccer clubs carry a sponsor’s name, including Red Bull New York.

David Farrow, managing director, sport and entertainment of Ogilvy Action, says most clubs will have to try different strategies as finances tighten in the wake of the economic downturn. “The days of clubs being able to plod along in the same way are over,” he says.

However, Pippa Collett, managing director of Sponsorship Consulting, says clubs need to ensure they get the right brand partners otherwise they will alienate fans, who are the “essence of the club”.

Stirling Albion says the club’s name will remain alongside any title sponsor. The current shirt sponsor is Prudential UK.

The search for a title has been launched via getmemedia.com.

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