Barclays Premier League football club Aston Villa is giving up an estimated £2 million in sponsorship this year in order to wear the name Acorns, a local children’s hospice, on their shirts.
Aston Villa is the first Premier League club to take this action in aid of a charity. It is following in the footsteps of Barcelona which signed a five-year deal with Unicef in 2006 in which the club donates about £1 million a year.
Villa have been involved with the hospice for the past two years. During that time players and staff have had the opportunity to learn about the charity through meeting children, parents and nurses as well as Acorns’ CEO, David Strudley, and other key members of staff.
It was Villa who approached the charity with the idea.
Club chairman Martin O’Neill said: “We hopefully can provide over the next 12 months the platform that Acorns clearly deserves. Myself and the players are looking forward to working with them very closely to maximise everything Acorns can possibly get out of it.”
The football club is encouraging its supporters to fundraise for the charity and both partners are designing a series of local and national events and initiatives. The website already carries an ‘in association with Acorns’ flash across each page.
Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore welcomed the move, congratulating Aston Villa and saying that the club deserve “real credit” for the idea.
Villa admit that the shirt partnership is an experiment, but its management believe that it can generate economic benefits for both itself and the charity. The club commented: “It is our hope that we are able to introduce this partnership to new and existing business relationships which will generate economic value to support the Club’s competitive ambitions and, at the same time giving a truly wonderful organisation a significant platform from which to touch more people”.
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