Sheffield Wednesday: Owls praised for ethical stance

Wednesday captain Anthony Gardner in the 2012-13 home shirt
Wednesday captain Anthony Gardner in the 2012-13 home shirt

Sheffield Wednesday have been praised for rejecting a shirt sponsorship offer from a money-lending company.

The offer is believed to have been lucrative but was turned down because the Owls did not believe the link fitted in with their community ethic.

They are in talks with other potential backers.

The club’s stance is unusual and suggests they are looking at the long-term picture rather than just short-term financial gain, says sponsorship expert Guy Masterman.

Guy is a former sports marketing consultant who is still in contact with the sponsorship and events industry as well as being head of Sheffield Hallam University’s Academy of Sport and Physical Activity.

“It’s a fairly unusual stance; a lot of owners do take the money and think of the short term rather than the long term,” he told The Star.

“Although we don’t know all the details (of Wednesday’s offer and decision) - and why would we? - they have taken the long-term view in order to protect their brand. even though the offer was 25 per cent above the norm, or so we are led to believe.

“So their brand still seems to be solid.”

The danger in accepting the offer, in his view, was that it could have been perceived that the club were entering into an unethical link and endorsing their fans getting into debt.

He added: “Sheffield Wednesday have taken the long-term view and looked for something that better suits their fans, who will be here longer than sponsors.

“The club should look for a good fit. That can be all kinds of things and it can perhaps keep the sponsorship going for a number of years. It’s not about something that might be seen as unethical.

“There is research to show that the closer the match between the parties, the better the chance of a successful return from sponsorship.”

As an analyst, he will be speaking at an Olympic conference in Beijing next week and has had engagements in Brazil and Argentina.

Although no details about the rejected offer have been revealed by Wednesday, chairman Milan Mandaric said: “We take great pride in our standing as a community-focused football club in the heart of Sheffield and believe this partnership would not have been welcomed by the majority of our supporters.”

The Owls will be launching new home and away shirts this summer.