“The Supporters Club” initiative will be operationally managed by Comic Relief and will be promoted on BT Sport programming, marketing and by its sporting partners. Partners could include The Premier League, Aviva Premiership Rugby and Moto GP, all of which BT Sport will be broadcasting when the channel goes live in August.
BT Sport customers will be able to make a recurring £1, £3 or £5 monthly donation to The Supporters Club direct from their bills. BT has pledged to begin the scheme with a £500,000 investment to support all the running costs of the fund and will match every £1 customers donate.
Money raised will be used to fund coaches, mentors and teachers to help disadvantaged young people reach their sporting potential in the UK and around the world. A note on The Supporters Club holding website says: “It’s all about supporting the supporters…Together, we can make a huge difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people and help them reach their goals”.
Rival Sky Sports has run its own CSR outreach programme in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust since 2003. The “Sky Sports Living for Sport” initiative works with about 40 per cent of secondary schools in the UK, using sport stars such as Jessica Ennis and Darren Campbell and sport skills to help increase young people’s confidence and access to health and fitness.
The company has also sponsored British Cycling since 2008 and runs a “Coaching the Coaches” scheme in partnership with the English Cricket Board.
The rivalry between BT and Sky has intensified over the spring and summer since the former company announced its plans for its sports channels and launched its multi-million pound marketing campaign.
A report in The Sunday Telegraph suggests Sky is to announce “significant” reactive price cuts to its broadband and TV bundles to become more competitive with BT’s initial promotional offers.
In April BT complained to Ofcom about BSkyB’s refusal to air its TV ad campaign on the grounds its rival was showing “undue discrimination”. BSkyB responded with a letter to the press saying allowing BT Sport to advertise on Sky Sports would be like “Tesco being able to advertise inside Sainsbury’s”.