This evening my beloved Derby County announced that Pride Park, their home since 1997, would be renamed the iPro Stadium in a £7 million, 10-year deal. Am I upset at the decision? Furious that we’ve sold out? Inconsolable in disbelief?
As much as football is the one of the biggest emotional drivers in any fan’s life, it remains a business and like any successful business it has to constantly expand its revenue streams.
I’ve previously discussed stadium naming rights in two different blogs, one regarding Brighton’s Amex and another on the short-lived Sports Direct Arena, with the understanding that both came about because of the world in which we live. In fact the decision itself was inevitable given the financial fair play regulations and the need to be more reliant on securing effective revenue, not relying on wealthy owners or long-term loans.
I concluded the previous blogs with the view that I am all in favour of stadium sponsorship, although I would have been disappointed if the brand name was something ridiculous – Pukka Pies Stadium anyone? But with the news that it will be called the iPro Stadium, I can confirm I’m pretty happy with that. The next step will now be to see how this money will be invested and if, perhaps most importantly for any fan, how much will be spent on the first team squad. Of course not every fan will be happy, and judging by comments on Twitter that is the case, but fans have to accept that this isn’t the 1970s and any new money into their club can only be a positive.
One final thought, working in the marketing industry, brands often need to make bold moves to succeed. This is not only a bold move for Derby County but let’s not forget the new sponsors. iPro was only founded in 2012 following seven years of research and development into sport, leisure, health and fitness, and £7 million is a lot of pocket money, so good luck to Cliff Bogle and the iPro team.