Milne: New Sponsorship Will Bolster Funding
Thursday, 11th Jan 2018 15:22
Managing director Ian Milne says Town’s new £2 million sponsorship from online gaming operator Magical Vegas will go into the club pot and will help “bolster the funding” of new additions to the squad.
The Blues announced the new three-and-a-half-year deal earlier today ending a decade of sponsorship from owner Marcus Evans’s own company.
“It’s a very good investment,” Milne said. “It all goes into the club pot. It helps with Marcus’s investment in the club, so it’s not going anywhere else this money.
“We’re pleased to be with Magical Vegas and I think it’s the right step to make at this time.
“Marcus is happy to move on, he’s achieved his aim with having the Marcus Evans name on the front of shirts, that’s helped the group nationally and internationally get their name around.
“The Marcus Evans group is very much a business to business type of operation and it was a great opportunity to get the name out in that way.
“He clearly felt the time is right to branch out and to see what other possibilities there were for shirt sponsorship and it brings in money.
“Marcus was paying money to the club anyway with regard to his sponsorship but this gives alternative sourcing of club funds.”
Town made a £4.3 million pre-tax loss in the year to June 2017 - and an operating loss of £7.8 million - with owner Evans covering the shortfall.
“Marcus’s investment continues to creep up every year," Milne added. "I appreciate that fans would love to see a lot more money, but we have a very strict financial budget.
“He’s been continuously investing in the club in the past 10 years, now into an 11th season, and his interest has not waned at all.
“Even today we’ve been working on the February reviews and the detailed reviews that he enjoys getting involved with, not just with the club itself but also the academy. He continues to be very interested in the club.”
Milne says fans shouldn’t take the disappearance of the Marcus Evans name from shirts as an indication that the Blues owner is looking to move on.
“This is another source of income and it’s the logical move on from using it for the benefit of the Marcus Evans group to another third party benefit and it also helps on the funding,” he continued.
With the January transfer window currently open, supporters will inevitably hope that manager Mick McCarthy will get to spend some of the new money coming into the club.
“I’m sure this eases any of these discussions that continue, not least within in the transfer window,” Milne responded.
“That will help in those discussions about potential players they’re looking to bring in, either as acquisitions or on a loan basis. Even if it’s a loan one there are some huge salaries out there that have to be paid and, of course, this helps to bolster the funding of new people coming in.
“Are there any new additions close? I’m not aware of anything at the moment. I know they continue talking about things.”
Similarly fans will be looking for the club to tie down players who are out of contract at the end of the season.
“That will most certainly helps with those players,” the MD added. “There’s always a negotiation with any contract, so the extra funding must alleviate some of those issues going forward.”
Milne says the club’s Playford Road youth set-up is also an area which is likely to benefit: “The academy always needs money. As we all know, Marcus is very, very fond of the academy, he loves spending time down here when he can.
“I think he spends even more time on the academy in business reviews than he does on the club part of the business because he really enjoys talking about what’s going on. That and scouting new recruits.”
Regarding criticism of the club linking up with a gambling business, he said: “Naturally we’ve got to take these things very responsibly, betting is lawful. Behind Magical Vegas owners Daub are Stride Gaming, they’re a PLC on the AIM exchange, they’re a responsible gambling company and that was very important for us and we felt this was the right move to make.
“Naturally, like everybody else, we want to make sure people carry out their gambling responsibly.”
Director of sales Rosie Richardson, added: “We have our own lottery, we’ve got the Blues Foundation lottery and we’ve got our matchday draw as well, so we promote responsible gambling in those areas of the business anyway.
“If you look at all of the Championship and the Premier League clubs and the league sponsor where the EFL is concerned, they’ve had SkyBet on board for a number of seasons and a lot of the clubs have now got some kind of sponsorship where gambling or online gambling platforms are concerned.”
Town have long been on the lookout for a stadium sponsor - Portman Road almost became the TXU Stadium more a decade and a half ago - and Milne says the club would still welcome a company taking on that role.
“Oh yes, absolutely,” he said. “We get approached from time to time about sponsorship. For most clubs there hasn’t been a big market out there but fortunately when this came up these people were very keen to get involved with us as well as one or two other sponsors and maybe the timing was absolutely right for both parties to start this new endeavour.”
Director of sales Richardson says the deal has been under discussion for a number of months.
“I began the project in the autumn,” she said. “October time was when I first started to look at who was potentially out there, so I’m delighted that at the start of this year we’re able to announce we’ve got a new front of shirt sponsor.
“It’s the away shirts for the remainder of this season and then the front of shirt for the home, away and third kit clash kit for the subsequent three seasons.
“There were other candidates but this brand, Magical Vegas, from the initial discussions and meetings I had was certainly a company that I wanted to work with and the football club wanted to work with.
“Up to this point they’ve been an absolute pleasure and I’m looking forward to further developing the relationship.”
Richardson says that the £2 million figure could increase if the Blues win promotion: “It will be more in the event of promotion to the Premier League. Certainly across the three and a half years in the Championship it’s nearly £2 million and if we get promoted then there’s lots more incremental revenue afoot.”
Fans who have bought the current away shirt, which unlike the home kit will bear the new sponsor’s logo for the remainder of this season, will be entitled to have to have the new name replace the old one.
“Supporters have got the opportunity to have a patch of the Magical Vegas brand over the front of the Marcus Evans logo if they wish,” Richardson continued. “That will be available and further details will be revealed in due course regarding that.
“But not children’s shirts because we need to promote responsible gambling and you can only gamble if you’re 18-plus. Next season’s children’s shirts will be blank.”
She says there will be benefits for fans from the link-up: “Magical Vegas are looking to offer incentives to our supporters, so watch this space. They’re going to have lots of initiatives and incentives and offers available to our fans.”
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