|CLUB DEFEND SPONSOR DECISION
(Friday 27th June 2003)
The Club have defended their decision to sell off the naming rights of Adams Park by claiming it will mean the survival of the Club. However, the Club have failed to confirm the financial workings of the deal and many supporters have spoken out strongly against the decision, including the opinion that it has sold the heritage of the Club down the river and grossly undervalued the use of the Club's biggest asset.
Club Chairman Ivor Beeks went one step further in his rebuke to the supporters by claiming that he could gauge the feelings of the late Jack Adams, son of Wanderers greatest benefactor, Frank Adams. Beeks, who joined the Wanderers Board six years after the death of Frank Adams told the Bucks Free Press, “I’ve been involved for 14 years on the board and for 13 years, I sat on the board with Jack Adams. I knew him exceptionally well and I’m reasonably sure in my mind that if he knew the situation, Jack’s considerations would have been the same”
The decision to drop the Adams Park name was apparently not taken lightly by Board members with the understanding that at least two Board members were opposed to the deal and a rift behind the scenes could be brewing. Beeks added ”This is not a decision that was taken lightly. It went to two or three board meetings before a decision was made. At the end of the day, we are here to make sure that the football club survives. It was a financial decision and we needed to make it."
However, the criticisms from supporters have not just come from those who are angry that the Adams name is being dropped. Other accusations suggest that the financial details of the deal should be made more clear and if the deal is the difference between survival or otherwise, them members, at the very least should have been contacted or informed via the Club's own media outlets. Beeks commented, "I know how the fans feel. I feel strongly about it as well but we had to make that decision. Of course we knew that everybody would not be happy but we can’t not a make a decision just because people won’t be happy about it. We’ve got to take it on the chin and deal with the criticism.
The Chairman then went on to further justify the decision by refering back to the deal that brought London Wasps to Adams Park as tenants during the 2002/3 season, adding, "Last year, when it was known that we were going to have Wasps, all hell broke loose. But we’ve had 12 months and we’ve seen fantastic rugby, help financially and the pitch is excellent.. However, what was described as a "million pound deal" by some commentators, has so far struggled to make any significant inroads into Wanderers' finances because of the enourmous outlay for the new pitch and the high start up costs. As recent as the Fans Forum in April 2003, Financial Director Rod Tomlin stated that the Club had to take a £400,000 loan to help towards the pitch and he stated "We haven't got too many places to go when it comes to cash resources next season.
The "survival" spin is being ladled on heavily by the Chairman, as he continued to the press, "Now we’re getting financial help and from that help, the club can survive. If we don’t have this sponsorship or sponsor for the shirt, we’d have a massive hole to fill. How do we fill it?. We don’t want to be like the 15 or 20 clubs in the last 18 months who have really struggled"
The Chairman's claims the deal will mean the survival of the Club have shocked followers of the Club who were lead to believe following various Fans Forum that the financial side of the Club was fairly secure. Some are suggesting that the Club are merely crying wolf and when they really need serious help there will be little credibilty left in their pleas.
The ground sponsorship deal came in the same week as the Club's new shirt sponsor was announced and The Chairman praised those responsible for negoitiating the deals, commenting, "The marketing team have done exceeding well. They’ve got a shirt sponsor and a stadium sponsor and I don’t know of any club that has managed to do that”. Meanwhile, the marketing people at the Club are still fighting hard for deals to replace the expired sponsorship on both main stands at Adams Park with the asking price for each stand said to be £30,000 per season. Apparently the eventual ground sponsors were offered the choice of these deals but eventually persuaded the Club to drop the Adams Park name in an effort to gain more publicity for their money from a ground sponsorship deal.
Sadly, the whole affair has turned into another PR catastrophe for the Club with a significant amount of supporters claiming the Club are in breach of their own Customer Charter having not communicated adequately or consulted their own fans on what was obviously going to be a highly emotive issue. Clearly we have not heard the last of this.
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