Sunderland FC Inks Invest In Africa As Principal Partner; EPL's First Non-Profit Sponsor
EPL club Sunderland signed Invest in Africa as its principal partner and shirt sponsor for the '12-13 season, marking the first time a non-profit organization has sponsored an EPL club. The Invest in Africa brand will be displayed on the team's kit for a minimum of two seasons. Invest in Africa promotes the continent as an investment destination. Tullow Oil, Africa's largest independent oil company, is the non-profit's initial founding partner (Invest in Africa). The club said that its partnership with Invest in Africa is "the most lucrative such commercial transaction in Sunderland's history." The GUARDIAN's Louise Taylor notes Sunderland Vice Chair David Miliband "is confident the agreement will help secure the club's financial future while also opening up a huge new international market." Miliband said, "This is a landmark announcement for Sunderland FC and a landmark for the Premier League. The image of Africa is often one of poverty and conflict, but there is another reality. The African Investment Bank estimates there are 300 million middle-class people in Africa. This is the biggest international venture in the club's history." Miliband added, "It's the best commercial deal in Sunderland's history. But we are not putting a figure on it because there are more companies that are going to join and as more companies join, the benefits will grow." Tullow Oil CEO Aidan Heavey said, "Sunderland will become the Premier League club in Africa" (GUARDIAN, 6/26). The SUNDERLAND ECHO notes the money "invested in the club is not expected to go into [manager] Martin O'Neill's transfer kitty but it does mark the transition of Sunderland towards matching the size of sponsorship deals that established Premier League clubs have been doing for years" (SUNDERLAND ECHO, 6/25).