Sheffield United announced a groundbreaking sponsorship deal which will mean they will be backed by a country next season. The Championship club will be sponsored by the Mediterranean island of Malta.
The lucrative deal will see: - The Blades wearing the visitMalta.com logo on their playing strip.
-Significant Malta tourism branding at the club's Bramall Lane stadium.
-United managing an academy for emerging young players capable of playing for the national team of the island.
-United overseeing the development of a community programme for the island's youngsters.
The sponsorship deal was overseen by United's newly appointed Executive Director Mike Farnan, who was brought in by the Blades earlier this year to mastermind new commercial opportunities. Mike worked closely with consultant Carly Barnes who was instrumental in securing the deal."This really is an international sponsorship deal with a difference," said United Chief Executive Jason Rockett.
"Whilst financially a good deal, the sponsorship will see us working in partnership with the island's government to deliver dual benefits including the development of players, community schemes and proactively marketing Malta as a tourist destination.
"The spin-offs for us and Malta could be huge. We look forward to developing all aspects of this sponsorship deal," added Mr Rockett.
Chris Fenech, Director for UK & Ireland for the Malta Tourist Authority, commented:
"The Malta Tourism Authority is delighted to enter into this partnership with Sheffield United FC. We believe that the collaboration between the two parties, which will stretch to beyond the simple footballing aspects, will be of benefit to all.
"Apart from associating Malta with one of the most historic clubs in the football league, this partnership will enable the Malta Tourism Authority to help at a social level, an aspect which we value highly. It is our intention to carry out elements of Corporate Social Responsibility both in the Sheffield community and neighbouring areas as well as supporting Sheffield United in their future ventures undertaken on the Maltese Islands."
Blades chairman Kevin McCabe, who was also instrumental in sealing the deal, said:
"The Malta Tourism Authority was impressed by our growing international presence which stretches into Hungary, China and Australia.
"Malta Tourism sees the significance of the marketing opportunities with those countries as well as recognising the need to further underpin the strong links with the UK to promote the island.
"They were impressed with the work we have done with our academy at Shirecliffe and how we have delivered an effective community programme targeting youngsters across the Sheffield city region. They want to replicate this in Malta and have brought us on board to help."This is an exciting opportunity for everyone connected with the Blades in the UK and abroad," added Mr McCabe.
Sheffield United also recently welcomed the current Maltese international goalkeeper - Justin Haber - to the club. He had a trial at Sheffield United two years ago and is making a big impression on officials at the Club who have been following his progress since. Goalkeeper Haber, aged 27, is experienced. He joins from Greek side Haidari having also played in Bulgaria and France.