Africa link good for Sunderland says vice-chairman David Miliband
Tuesday 26 June 2012
Sunderland vice-chairman David Miliband is confident the club's foray into Africa will help secure its financial future.
The Black Cats yesterday announced a sponsorship deal with Invest in Africa, a business initiative launched in association with Tullow Oil which it hopes will benefit both the African and domestic economies.
However, Miliband also revealed the agreement is the most lucrative in the club's history and while he was not putting any figure on its value, he believes it will further strengthen Sunderland's position.
The former Foreign Secretary and South Shields MP said: "When I first joined the club, Ellis Short and Niall Quinn said, 'We are always trying to take a step up, each step needs to be a step up'.
"This is the most competitive league in the world and it is tough to get points.
"But we are confident that this is an important step up for Sunderland because it helps secure our financial future, and that is obviously vital to be able to do the business on the pitch as well."
Owner and current chairman Short and former chairman Quinn have worked hard in recent years to promote the club to a wider audience, and announced an initial partnership agreement with Invest in Africa in January.
Under the new agreement, the Black Cats will wear the not-for-profit organisation's logo on their shirts for at least the next two seasons, and will hope to attract a huge new fan base in the process.
Miliband said: "The biggest thing for us is that it is a long-term commercial partner and sponsor.
"There is obviously the shirts aspect to it, but I think it's deeper than that, it's about a whole range of contracts which include money coming into the club, as we have to be financially sustainable and the sponsorship is a vital part of that.
"But I never forget, we are a £75million or so turnover club, and Manchester United are, what - £450million, £475million?
"We are trying to compete in the same league. We can beat Manchester City and they have got a pretty big turnover.
"We want to make sure that we have got a long-term financial stability that allows us to make the right decisions on players and on the pitch, as well as in the backroom."
Barclays Premier League clubs will share a staggering £3billion under the latest television rights deal, but Sunderland are keen to attract new income while attempting to keep football affordable for their fans.
Miliband said: "Obviously, TV money is the biggest source of funds. We know it's really tough for our fans at the moment - that's why we have frozen season ticket prices, that's why the deal for the under-16s is that you can come and get a season ticket for less than £100.
"We are determined to make sure that we maximise income from sources other than our fans. What we want them to do is come to the match and cheer us on, and I think this deal is an important complement to that."
Latest in Sport
Liverpool vs Bolton report: Brilliant Adam Bogdan produces heroics to earn Wanderers a replay
What time is the 2015 WWE Royal Rumble on? And full card
Cristiano Ronaldo vine: Real Madrid forward sent-off for kicking and striking opponent during 2-1 win over Cordoba
Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Gabriel Paulista fee agreed as Gunners make £13.5m bid to sign Villarreal defender - reports
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Syrian refugee child beaten by Istanbul Burger King manager for eating customer’s leftover food
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens