Happy birthday! Kettering Town blazes sponsorship’s 40th anniversary trail
THESE days, it is a common sight to see sports teams running around with their shirts emblazoned with names of the latest technology company, betting shop or even a chosen charity, for all to see.
Whether it is Arsenal with Emirates, or the local pub team with ‘Vince the Barber’, every football team up and down the country – from four-year-olds playing 7-a-side football in local playing fields, to the heady heights of the Premier League – is adorned with name of a sponsor.
However, what is less known is that without Kettering Town Football Club trailblazing the way 40 years ago, it would never have been possible.
Last year alone, Premier League Football Clubs earned more than £200million from shirt sponsorship deals. The top ten shirt sponsorship deals in the world account for revenues of more than £300million and this year Manchester City is expected to sign a new improved contract worth more than £80 million per season.
None of this could have been achieved without Kettering Town and Derek Dougan. The very first deal of its kind netted Kettering Town a princely ‘four figure sum’ . . . but paved the way for clubs to earn millions.
In January 1976, Derek Dougan the ‘Doog’ had retired from professional football and took on the role of CEO of Kettering Town Football Club. In one of his first major acts in the role, on the January 24, Kettering Town Football Club became the first club in the UK to have a sponsor on the front of their shirts. At home to Bath City, it was just before 3pm when the players ran onto the pitch with ‘Kettering Tyres’ emblazoned on their shirts . . . and history was made.
The following week, after the shirts had been worn again away at Weymouth, the FA ordered the removal of the logo. Dougan duly removed four letters, claiming that ‘Kettering T’ stood for Kettering Town. The FA was not impressed and reiterated its order; Kettering Town was threatened with a £1,000 fine, so the logo was removed.
The following season, both Derby County and Bolton Wanderers along with Kettering Town applied for the right to carry sponsorship on their shirts. Eventually, in June 1977, the FA conceded, but unfortunately, Kettering Town was unable to attract a sponsor.
The rest, as they say is history. And what a history it has been – since 1976 shirt sponsorship has become major business.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the historical moment in UK football, Kettering Town wore replica Kettering Tyres shirts for the home game against Stratford Town last Saturday, January 16 and the away game at Weymouth tomorrow, Saturday January 23, 2016.
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Pictured above – TRAIL-BLAZER: Derek Dougan the ‘Doog’ took action over sponsorship and the rest, as they say, is history.