Sponsor ends ground deal with Armagh

Thu, Nov 8, 2012, 00:00

With yet further evidence of the undulating sponsorship terrain now facing counties, Armagh have lost one of their longest backers, shortly after adding a new one, while Tyrone have found themselves a new two-year deal.

Just last week the Armagh County Board announced a new jersey sponsorship deal with Rainbow Communications, but yesterday lost long-term supporters Morgan Fuels as title sponsors of the recently-redeveloped Athletic Grounds, even though that deal had another three years to run.

Morgan Fuels had also been Armagh’s headline sponsor for the last 17-years, but yesterday Hugh Morgan, MD of Morgan Fuels, released a fairly hard-hitting statement concerning the breakdown of the sponsor’s relationship with the county board.

“In very recent times, we have witnessed a serious decline in the atmosphere prevailing at county level matches, reflected in poor results and the souring of key relationships,” the statement said. As the principal sponsor of the county teams and of the Athletic Grounds, we have been in a very difficult position.

“ Not only have we increasingly found ourselves at odds with the county board over their failure to provide the branding and corporate hospitality benefits that were to be provided as part of our sponsorship agreements, but even more importantly, over their failure to take decisive and strategic action to stem the decline of Armagh football.

“Earlier this year, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that, not only were the county board complacent about Morgan Fuel’s continued financial support, but they were failing to use the money to invest in the development of the teams.

“I sought to bring pressure on the board by asking them to bring forward a strategy that would equip Armagh football to go forward with confidence and to strive for the success they had achieved previously.

“I made it clear that unless such a strategy was developed, the financial support of Morgan Fuels could not be guaranteed. I am sorry to say that my request was ignored and, consequently, I had no option but to suspend our financial support. This impasse has continued for the last six months and led to the complete breakdown of our relationship with the county board.”

The timing and nature of Armagh’s new deal with Rainbow Communications clearly contributed to this scenario (it was also announced at an event held at the Morgan Athletic Grounds), and the full implications of this fall-out remains to be seen.

In response, however, Armagh secretary Patrick Nugent issued the following statement: “Armagh county board are disappointed with Mr Morgan’s response to our new sponsorship arrangements, since at all times we endeavour to conduct our affairs with discretion and integrity. While our partnership with Morgan Fuels has been prosperous and mutually respectful for many years, recently some complications have arisen regarding the sponsorship of Armagh.

“We wish him and his company well and would like to thank him sincerely for his contribution to our county over the past 17 years. Finally, while we always welcome advice on how to manage our coaching and games, we will continue to ensure that this part of our operation will at all times be under the strategic control of our county board.”

Meanwhile, in a surprising move, Meath-based crisp company Hunky Dorys have come on board to sponsor Tyrone until at least the end of 2014, this being the same parent company, Largo Foods, that recently signed up to sponsor Meath for the next two years. In a reportedly six-figure shirt deal, Hunky Dorys will also sponsor all Tyrone league and championship competitions, with Tyrone chairman Ciarán Mac Lochlainn welcoming the new deal as one “with an appetite for growth and success that replicates the ambitions of Tyrone GAA, across all codes, both on and off the field.”

Last week, Cork become one of 10 counties either without a commercial partner or at the end of an agreement as as the Rebel County’s existing contract with O2, won’t be renewed into 2013.

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