In case anyone had missed it, Norwich City have terminated their partnership with BK8.
Two days after the deal was announced and outrage ensued over inappropriate imagery on the Asian firm’s social media, the club have cut the partnership short while admitting that “we got it wrong.”
Chief Operating Officer Ben Kensell also said, via a club statement, that “on this occasion, we made an error of judgement.
“Our standards were not at the levels we demand of our football club.
“We can now only apologise to our supporters and former players, Grant Holt and Darren Eadie, who were across the BK8 promotional launch campaign, for any offence caused.
“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.”
BK8 also commented on the end of the partnership, promising to learn from their mistakes. “We intend to take action to show football fans that we learn from our mistakes and improve as a brand,” they said in an official statement.
“BK8 commits to the fans that we will inject a portion of these sponsorship funds back into relevant charities and associations.”
It’s MyFootballWriter’s understanding that there was no cost for the club, other than loss of potential earnings, in terminating the deal, but that any replacement is very unlikely to pay as much as BK8 had agreed to.
On the face of it, this may feel like a loss for Norwich City. They haven’t earned as much as they could’ve done from next season’s sponsorship deal. They’ve dropped a huge PR clanger and replaced a record sponsorship deal with one they cancelled in less than 48 hours. But City fans are the winners in this situation.
Just as they felt their club slipping away, the loss of their community, their power and importance starting to wain, the cancellation of this deal was evidence of their influence.
Anyone who tuned in to our podcast on Tuesday night and witnessed Stuart Hodge (or Hodgeythehack) passionately defending “the soul of the club” will understand quite how devastating this had the potential to be. Hodgey echoed the sentiments of many fans, and credit must go to the club for recognising that they were not only in the midst of a PR problem but an identity crisis, and at the end of it they managed to remember who they really were.
They remembered the priority of a club whose local support is disproportionate to its size, whose owners represent the fan base rather than investment and whose history is of prioritising fan enjoyment over winning at all costs.
Although something that previously felt business-like and barely related to football, City can use the cancellation of a sponsorship as a turning point for their summer. The first few weeks of a huge few months for the club were littered with fruitless rumour, PR disaster and the loss of their best player. The next few days look like they’ll include a symbol of the club’s commitment to fans and the signing of an old favourite on a permanent deal.
Sprinkle in genuine interest in the likes of Adam Armstrong, Tosin Adarabioyo and Oliver Skipp and it feels like goodness may well be on the horizon. If England don’t manage to dampen the cautious optimism creeping into Norfolk then things look like they’re on the up, on the basis of a decision made for the club by its excellent support.