“…And we’ll really shake them up when we win the Fawaz International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Company Cup because Forest are the greatest football team.”

10 Aug

Tuesday 6rd August 2013

Nottingham Forest 3.1 Hartlepool United

(Majewski, Halford, Derbyshire) (Austin)

Milk. Littlewoods. Rumbelows. Coca-Cola. Worthington’s. Molson Coors. (Really? Must have missed that one). Capital One.

Call it what you want but I prefer the good old League Cup. Perhaps it is a little churlish to be so traditional about such matters though. After all, sponsorship is a part of all forms of modern entertainment and if such companies are willing to pay for their logo or brand to be advertised in such a manner then perhaps we should just deal with it and move on.

Emirates. Etihad. American Express. Ricoh. Sports Direct. Britannia. KC. Liberty. DW. King Power. Reebok. Keepmoat. John Smith’s. Banks’s. Coral Windows. Greenhous. Proact. Pirelli. Cherry Red Records. Globe. One Call. Fraser Eagle. Kit Kat. (Admittedly, York City have reverted back to Bootham Crescent now but it would be a shame not to acknowledge that it was actually called Kit Kat Crescent for a period).

They don’t quite roll off the tongue do they? I can live with the idea of a trophy being sponsored since after all; it’s still the League Cup or the FA Cup, even if the ribbons get sponsored now. But football grounds? That seems a different matter. They seem to have crept up on all of us and ingrained themselves into our consciousness like a small tic infecting a defenceless guinea pig. Well, some of them anyway. I find myself, despite my best efforts, referring to Bolton’s ground as The Reebok; perhaps because it has never been called anything else. It is different though with, for example, the Coral Windows Stadium. It’s Valley Parade innit? Once again though, money talks and if it wasn’t for the wonderful people at such companies wanting to give clubs money then in some cases, there might not even be a stadium. At this point, I would like to award Rotherham United a big gold star for going with the New York Stadium rather than jumping into bed with a sponsor. It is built on the former site of the Guest and Chrimes Foundry. Guest and Chrimes was a steelworks company, who made the iconic fire hydrants seen in New York.  Tenuous at best but still, there is an attempt to acknowledge some history here.

Panasonic. Wrangler. Skol. Home Ales. Shipstones. Labatt’s. Pinnacle. Capital One. Victor Chandler. John Pye. Fawaz International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Company.

This brings us neatly onto the topic of football kit sponsorship. Trends are occurring here. At first, electronics companies seemed attracted to football tops like a moth to light. Sharp and Manchester United. JVC and Arsenal. Forest weren’t the only ones at it. Then a new wave washed upon the shore: alcohol. The mid-80s to mid-90s saw alcohol and football jump into bed together. And again, it wasn’t just Forest either. My most abiding memory of the 1987 FA Cup Final between Tottenham and Coventry is not Keith Houchen’s diving header or Gary Mabbutt’s own goal but the fact that some Tottenham players had Holsten Pils on their tops and some didn’t. Weird.

And now? Here, Forest have bucked the trend somewhat since sadly, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning is not part of a new wave of kit sponsorship. We did briefly surf the zeitgeist but fell off the wave. Betting sponsorship has muscled out the electronics and alcohol. Analysis of the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs reveals that 19 different betting firms have official partnerships with clubs, a number only liable to rise as options become more scarce. Let’s not forget the payday loans companies either: Wonga and Cisse and all that malarkey.

Is it a problem though? Children’s replica tops are not allowed to have betting company sponsorship but that doesn’t extend to alcohol. There are some young Chesterfield fans that until recently proudly sported Vodka Kick on their chest. But before we renounce Britain as broken, we should remember that a whole generation grew up sporting Home Ales, Shipstones and Labatt’s on their treasured replica tops. Did it nurture alcoholism in such impressionable young minds? To be honest, I wasn’t even quite sure what Home Ales or Shipstones were. When Labatt’s came onto the scene, I was a little more worldy wise and even went to the lengths of actually buying the produt in the misguided hope that I was in some small, miniscule way, funding my team and providing money for star signings. But at some point, I realised that Labatt’s was horrible. So I stopped.

It’s nice to have a sponsor that is local to the area and Forest have done better than most in this regard: step forward Home Ales, Shipstones, Pinnacle, Capital One and John Pye. But the trend regarding betting companies is a little disconcerting. The fact that Holsten Pils is engrained into my mind reminds me about the power of advertising. We are all suckers for it, even if we think we aren’t, we are. The proliferation of betting companies around the game is growing too: it’s not the Coca Cola or Nationwide Championship anymore – it’s the Sky Bet Championship. Betting is not just all over most Premier League shirts; we are cajoled and bullied into betting when watching from the comfort of our living room by the freaky head of Ray Winston. Betting, it seems, is a natural bed fellow of football – or that’s what Sky and all the plethora of other betting companies want us to believe.

Betting always has and always will be a part of any sport, especially such high profile ones such as football and it should be remembered that betting scandals are as old as the hills in football: in 1915 a huge match-fixing scandal gripped English football that resulted in players being jailed after a game between Manchester United and Liverpool was rigged. I just don’t think that betting companies need any encouragement from such a willing market such as the humble football fan.

Football loves to jump into bed with whoever bats an eyelid, gives it a flirty look or buys it a drink. It would be nice if it found a nice young man to settle down with for once though, rather than the young buck from the wrong side of the tracks.

They should change the name of the League Cup back to the Littlewoods Cup. We were good in that competition. We may even be due a cup run in this one though. This was a solid performance and even when it looked like Hartlepool might frustrate us, we kept on going and made the breakthrough. It was nice to see Colin Cooper back at the City Ground; I always had a lot of time for this guy who was a model professional in his time with us and horrendously underrated as a footballer. He was hard as nails but could also play a bit too. He kept his players on their toes from the touchline but I don’t think they understood a word he said given his thick accent. From a Forest perspective, it was interesting to see that Billy stayed in the director’s box until well into the second half but when he came down to the dugout, you could see his impact. Not only did the players seem to run that little bit harder but his backroom staff were on their toes too; it was just like teacher had entered the room and everyone did their very best to look busy.

Maybe he is on a promise of a new fridge if we win the League Cup.

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