Premier League Club Ditches Shirt Sponsor After Three Days

Newly promoted Norwich City has terminated its front-of-shirt sponsor after just three days. The club ended the agreement after a fan backlash over BK8’s use of sexual imagery in social media promotions.

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Norwich City Cancel BK8 Contract © Pixabay.

Norwich City, who won the Championship last season to gain promotion to the Premier League, has cancelled its front-of-shirt sponsorship with Asia-facing brand BK8 after just three days.

BK8 signed an agreement on Monday to replace Dafabet as the club’s main sponsor, with the company going live in the UK market, using a white-label offering from Malta-based Progress Play.

The deal only lasted until Thursday after supporters, and the press discovered highly sexualised images of young women that had been used to promote BK8 on social media. It also came to light that one of the brand’s ambassadors, who had more than 250,000 followers, had posted links that directed those that clicked to hardcore pornography.

The practice is naturally against UK marketing rules set out by the regulatory body, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and also led to a fierce backlash by Norwich City Supporters. Over 100 Canaries fans complained directly to the club, and some of the club’s official supporter groups sent videos demanding that ties are cut with the operator.

Earlier this week, when announcing the deal, the club statement said: “We’re delighted to welcome BK8 as our new principal partner. It is excellent that they see the value in working with Norwich City.”

The Premier League new boys also released a 2-minute, 46-second video championing the deal in which Ben Tunnell, the club’s Head of Commercial Development, says that the club is “absolutely over the moon by securing BK8’s support for next season”. He adds that the deal with BK8 gives them a platform to reach a new global audience. Tunnell also adds that while the company is new to Europe, they are a “highly reputable and well-regarded brand” in South-East Asia”.

However, by Thursday, the club had bowed down to public outrage and released a statement saying:

On this occasion, we got it wrong. For that, and any offence caused, the club apologises. Norwich City, official statement.

Adding: ““We remain highly committed to diversity and equality across our football club and its community. “We want to continue to embed a highly inclusive culture across the club, together with an accessible and welcoming environment free of demeaning and discriminatory behaviours.”

The situation is incredibly embarrassing for the club, especially as they ended their previous sponsorship deal with Dafabet a year early to enter the partnership with BK8. Norwich COO Ben Kensell saying at the time: “Over our 2019-20 Premier League campaign, we announced record commercial revenue for the football club. More recently, we’ve also enjoyed a very successful Championship season throughout the challenges of the pandemic.

“Throughout that period, Dafabet have been fantastic supporters. As a club with a clear model, the contribution of our official partners and the team at Dafabet has been crucial. As the partnership comes to an end, we thank them tremendously for their support and wish them well,”

Norwich is now seeking a new front-of-shirt sponsor; the deal with BK8 is estimated to have been worth £5m to the club.

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