Tony Gillan: Red and white hearts aflutter at new sponsorship deal for Sunderland

Sunderland's new sponsors are Dafabet
Sunderland's new sponsors are Dafabet
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ON Monday it was announced that SAFC’s new shirt sponsor will be the online gambling firm Dafabet, which already has ties with Aston Villa and Everton.

Dafabet, a company licensed in the tax-friendly Isle of Wight, met the main criterion which was stumping up enough money.

But you had to work this out for yourself, because it could not be deciphered from the international-class waffle that the club issued to herald this exciting new era.

Chief bottle-washer Margaret Byrne said: “Our regional identity sits proudly at the heart of Sunderland AFC but increasing our global footprint is also key as we look to continue to grow and strengthen the football club for the future.

“Our partnership with Dafabet will open up new markets for us and we welcome them warmly to our Sunderland family.”

She didn’t say how the partnership would open up new markets, so we shall have to content ourselves with the Parable of the Global Footprint for now.

On Sunday night in the Museum Vaults, the conversation was as usual taken up with the travails of Sunderland AFC. Sponsorship was mentioned and the issue was providing considerable angst.

A fat, pink bloke in a Sex Pistols T-shirt, who can belch the first line of My Generation, was especially fretful over what sort of organisation the club would be involved with.

He said: “It has to be someone who can provide some synergy between our collective aims and objectives. I’m worried sick about that, me.”

He needn’t have been. Some other bod from the club put everyone’s mind at rest in a statement about the new deal.

He said: “There is a fantastic synergy between our collective aims and objectives.”

So that’s that sorted.

The aims and objectives for a football club are winning games, while a gambling company wants to persuade people to place unsuccessful bets. The fantastic synergy is plain for all to see.

There has always been disquiet about football clubs being sponsored by gambling firms, but this has dissipated over the years. In 2014-15 Premier League kit sponsors included four gambling companies, one booze company, one bank, a pawn shop and an electronics firm that had child labour in its supply chain.

But since 2012 Newcastle United have managed to make everyone else appear to be at the pinnacle of ethicality by snuggling up to Wonga.

The difference is that Wonga preys on the desperate, whereas gambling firms only prey the gullible; people like me – and that’s my fault.

There are worse sponsors out there and we will wait forever for one that is not involved with some or other vice. The purest option is to have no sponsor and, although we don’t know how much Dafabet will pay, we know that a logo-less shirt is simply not feasible.

It is also the case that betting firms are not allowed to plug themselves on children’s replica kits. The club could further appease the pious by placing a charity’s logo on the kids’ strips, even if it’s their own Foundation of Light.

In the meantime I’m off out to gamble, drink heavily and take advantage of third world sweat shops. But I’ll be back next week to blame football clubs for this.

It would be lovely to see shirts emblazoned with the logo of the Red Cross or the Blood and Transplant service, but they probably don’t have the money.

And as we all know, their record on synergy between our collective aims and objectives leaves much to be desired.

POOR old Sepp Blatter. He’s away.

You can’t even be in charge of a cesspit of lies, greed, crookedness and amorality these days without complaints from some do-gooder. It’s political correctness gone mad.

Uncle Sepp had described a “hate campaign” against him, insisting he was both innocent of any crime and ignorant of the scallywaggery of all those rotters that the FBI lifted last week.

Despite his inability to see what all the fuss is about, after just 17 years in charge he was apparently ready to leap into action to restore the reputation of Fifa. The problem is that you must be of a certain age to remember when football’s governing body had a reputation that was actually worth saving.

Some cynics have suggested that Sepp should have resigned much earlier, rather than seek re-election, after decades of systematic corruption. In fact, his only supporter of any substance was the happy-go-lucky President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, who railed against what he saw as American interference in the affair. “This is yet another blatant attempt (by the USA) to extend its jurisdiction to other states,” said the man who invaded Ukraine.

Sepp’s decision to spend his autumn years on his allotment, was more likely due to financial rather than political pressure. Sponsors like Visa, Coca-Cola and Adidas have now raised concerns over the “shock” news that Fifa officials might not the sort of chaps you would want to play cards with after all.

But it isn’t funny. There many gravely serious issues here. Foremost among them is that Qatar may have bribed its way to the procurement of the 2022 World Cup, leading in turn to the appalling mistreatment of migrant workers building the infrastructure, with 4,000 people expected to die before the tournament begins.

Qatar were cleared of any wrongdoing in their bid following a lengthy inquiry – by Fifa. This somehow failed to appease everyone. The 2018 World Cup in Russia is hardly without controversy either.

So what can be done in the UK about Fifa, other than to point out how terrible it all is? It would have helped if Northern Ireland and Scotland had declined to play Qatar this week, or if Greg Dyke hadn’t trousered that £16,000 watch from the Brazilian Football Confederation (he later returned it).

Despite Mr Blatter bailing out, things are unlikely to change and if they don’t the only available option is likely to be a boycott of the World Cup, thereby making it less attractive to sponsors; money being all that motivates Fifa. But so far the FA has been rather weedy.

Mr Dyke said: “There’s no point boycotting on our own, but if the rest of Europe decided to boycott we would join them.” Oooooh, we’re-not-doing-it-if-they-don’t.

England is in a perfect position to pull out. The FA is rich and important in football, but the England team has no chance of winning the World Cup and therefore has nothing to lose.

It would force Fifa’s hand further if other European football associations followed suit, particularly those of Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the Netherlands whose teams tend to do well. But if England ended up acting unilaterally, then so be it. Resignation or not, Sepp Blatter and his dwindling band of supporters continue to ignore or even benefit from the backhanders, the disregard of the law and the mounting death toll in Qatar, then at least history would say that the FA – and the FA alone – did the right thing. The World Cup is only a football competition. At least, that was the idea.