Sponsored Walk

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Now 10 or so years ago, the shirt deal we signed with JJB was not just advantageous but a totally necessary part of our survival. It was the first visible sign of the chairman’s involvement with the club and look where that got us. But times change and so do relationships. From their perspective, Latics are hardly have the highest profile of all their ‘partners’.

That pleasure would fall to the England team. Neither are we likely to provide them with the significant amount of airtime or column inches that could make a decent sponsorship worthwhile. From our perspective you can’t help but think that without Mr. Whelan’s involvement in both parties the relationship wouldn’t exist and wonder how much is in it for the club. Now, as we sit in our JJB sponsored seats watching the team run around in their kits with (at least) three JJB logos on them, I wonder whether we should be looking elsewhere.

‘Ah’, you might say, ‘the JJB sponsorship protects us from the salary cap they keep talking about!’ But would it? Yes I can see how a little bit of financial jiggery pokery might appear to increase our revenue, if a club and company were owned by the same person, but in this case they’re not. JJB’s money is not Dave Whelan’s money. As chairman and majority shareholder he may have had a great deal of say in how much any sponsorship deal would be worth but would still have responsibility to his shareholders. In any case he’s no longer chairman, although no doubt it will be one of his ‘men’ that have taken over the mantle.

Now, I don’t know the details of our arrangement with JJB. I can guess that it’s somewhat short of the 100 million over five years that is reportedly on the table for Barca’s shirts, I would also hazard a guess that it’s around the lowest in the Prem and less than some clubs in other divisions. When you consider that Fulham’s shirt deal is worth £1million per season and that the bottom five top division clubs’ deals averaged £500,000 last season you can see how we could possibly be missing out on some money (and with our police bills see where it could come in useful). Assume a similar amount would be available for sponsorship of the stadium and you’re looking at a serious amount of cash.

Now if we’re getting that sort of money from JJB, then we can all go home happy. If we’re not then the club needs to make sure it’s getting market value. It’s a little too late for this season, but if the aim of consolidation is achieved then you’d like to think that we’d be a marketable commodity. The stadium isn’t ours to change as such, and we probably wouldn’t make any money from a name change, but the shirts are ours and as JJB make them, they won’t lose out too much. Who can/would we sell out to though? I would suggest that we’d look for a company with connections with the town/area and avoid any of these faceless generic IT/insurance type deals that seem popular these days.

Realistically I don’t think this will happen, and to some extent I don’t want it to. Having JJB on our shirts might be a reminder of how tightly we are controlled by one man, but on the other hand it doesn’t feel like a shirt sponsor, JJB feel part of the family somehow. Even better it’s not very likely that they’ll come knocking on the door and try to call the shots. Then again, Mr. Whelan won’t be around for ever, and we need to start acting like big boys. Should we start preparations now for the day when we have to stand on our own two feet financially as well as on the pitch?

Been there before

Baldwin Timberlakes
Bulldog tools

Three ‘Wigin’ Sponsors
Uncle Joes
The Santi Bag
Any pie shop

And three that are more realistic (maybe)
Heinz (again)
Mark’s and Spencer’s (well – you never know!)

and the three we’ll never touch

The Wigan Evening Post

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