Owls Fans Column: Little comfort in fiery shirts

Milan Mandaric
Milan Mandaric

When Sheffield Wednesday made the decision to rebuff the sponsorship advances of a payday lending company, Milan Mandaric told the press he wasn’t ‘comfortable’ to support them as our main partner.

The Owls chairman had sensed the mood of the country in a failing economy and avoided any backlash from the fans.

Our next opponents, Bolton, know the consequences of this after entering into a sponsorship agreement with QuickQuid.

Sheffield Wednesday isn’t a club that can afford to be altruistic but it has made us proud in the past that thought has gone into our sponsorship deals. Our collaboration with the Sheffield Children’s Hospital showed that there was some heart and community spirit left in football.

Our current sponsorship deal with Azerbaijan came as no surprise. All of Hafiz Mammadov’s teams display the country’s Land of Fire branding, including reigning La Liga Champions, Atlético Madrid. It does stroke the ego a little to share something in common with last season’s Champions League finalists.

The branding, however, doesn’t entirely fit with Mr Mandaric’s business plan. Our government may make some morally dubious decisions but the human rights record in Azerbaijan makes me wonder where the bottom line of ‘comfortable’ is at the club.

The decision to keep the current sponsor is obviously a legal issue and an indicator to Mr Mammadov that we’re holding up our end of the deal and he should too. Although I’m not sure wearing the sponsor ‘proudly’ during this time is the right sentiment from Milan Mandaric.

Our current charitable donation to promote the country of Azerbaijan is unlikely to get Wednesday a quick quid anytime soon.