Sunderland's Invest In Africa Sponsorship Paying Dividends
Increasing interest in EPL Sunderland Association Football Club games among football fans in east and central Africa illustrates the "increasingly global perspectives" of Sunderland Association Football Club, according to Chris Tighe of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The Invest in Africa logo on this season’s new uniform "underlines the trend." Sunderland's Invest in Africa partnership, "the first of its kind in British football, shows how it is looking outward and ahead." The company, a non-profit initiative backed by Tullow Oil, promotes Africa "as an attractive investment destination and a fast growing economy, challenging the belief that the continent is only about poverty and distress." It has become the EPL team's main partner and shirt sponsor from the '12-13 season onward, a deal that gives the Invest in Africa brand "potential exposure to the Premier League’s worldwide audience" of 4.7 billion people. For Sunderland, whose current first team includes Stephane Sessegnon from Benin, the deal brings not only sponsorship, but also "huge potential to build a fan base" in a continent of 1 billion people and "deepens the club’s affiliation with African players." Sunderland Commercial Dir Gary Hutchinson said, "We hope to become the club in Africa people want to support. We want to be an internationally known and respected brand playing in Europe" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 10/30).