11 September 2017
It was good to head back over to the AJ Bell Stadium over the weekend for the Sale Sharks’ first game of the season.
As main sponsor, we always have at least three tables full of family, friends, the UKFast team and our clients in the hospitality area. The atmosphere is fantastic and it’s always a memorable occasion to sit in the stands and cheer on the team together – win, lose or draw.
It’s something we’ve done since the very early years of UKFast and when the Sharks were still playing at Edgeley Park. We’d go along with our flasks full of mulled wine, woolly hats and massive winter coats; huddled together watching the team.
Our relationship with Sale Sharks is a special one. We’ve been involved with the team for a number of years and been there through each of its eras. We started working with them in 2000, and we’d only set the business up in 1999. It was the first big commercial deal I ever signed.
We have a special relationship with Sale Sharks
I remember heading over to the office on Heywood Road, back then it was a portacabin. I knocked on the door and started talking about email and website hosting. Swanny – their PR guy and now Sale Sharks Customer Services Director & Head of Media – was faxing a press release in the background.
They laughed at me when I told them that not too far in the future, their fans would be buying tickets on the internet. An incredible relationship was born!
In the early days we had a contra-deal where we helped them build a website and look after all of their hosting. In return we had a little bit of signage around the ground. Eventually we became the main sponsor and were the main sponsor for a few years before taking a bit of a break.
Taking a break was the right thing to do at the time, but when the club changed hands and Mark Cueto turned up at the Farinet when I was living out there, it was clear that it was time to come back. It was a no brainer. Rugby is one of those things that I am incredibly passionate about.
When you’re trying to build a business that’s competitive, that’s successful, it’s important to align yourself with brands that share that same drive and philosophy. Sharks share that with us. It’s also great for our team to spend time with the team and these highly motivated, focussed, successful individuals.
It works because it is a symbiotic relationship. We had our first year back as sponsor last year and it is clear that the new leadership team have done an incredible job. The culture is awesome there now. I am excited for the season ahead.