The Football Association today confirmed a new three-year sponsorship deal for its flagship competition, which from August will be known as the Emirates FA Cup. At least that is what the two parties involved hope is going to happen. The FA chairman, Greg Dyke, who promised that most of the money raised in a deal thought to be worth £30m would be spent on improving grassroots facilities, expects some opposition and criticism from football traditionalists.
“Let me try and allay their fears by saying all the money will be going back into the game at all levels,” Dyke said. “The vast majority of the funds raised will be going to the parts of the game that need it most. Grassroots, youth coaching and especially the development of all-weather pitches in communities around the country. That is an area where we are miles behind the Dutch and the Germans.
“I think that people who object to the name change are the same people who are sentimental about kicking off at three o’clock. The world changes. The reason we kick off at 5.30pm today is because that is the time when most people are available to watch.
“When I took over this job I felt the FA Cup had been in decline for some years. Now it is enjoying something of a revival. I don’t think it is ever going to get back to what it was when I was a kid, when whole towns and communities used to come to a halt, but I do think it has been rebuilt in the past few years and the television audience the BBC can bring is part of that. The Cup still captures the imagination, it is still one of the world’s most iconic pieces of silverware.”
Emirates Airline was associated with Fifa until last year, and Sir Tim Clark, the company president, was careful to draw a distinction between supporting the FA and the discredited organisation still led by Sepp Blatter. “The least said about last week’s events the better,” Clark said.“The FA is not that organisation, and the FA Cup has an unrivalled heritage and draws a global audience of more than 1.1 billion.
“I think we are regarded as a healthy, wholesome brand and we are proud to be first title sponsors of such a great competition. We have enjoyed a very successful partnership with Arsenal and I hope this will be the same. I hope our partnership lasts for longer than three years.”
The FA had been looking for a new sponsor for the FA Cup since Budweiser ended its three-year association with the 144-year-old tournament last year.
Emirates sponsors Arsenal and, as well as the club’s Emirates Stadium, an annual pre-season tournament bears the company’s name. It also sponsors Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Milan and Hamburg.
© 2015 The Guardian | This article was written by Paul Wilson and first originally appeared on The Guardian on 30 May 2015.