MaltaToday | 24 August 2008

Monique Chambers | Sunday, 24 August 2008

MTA steels a deal

My ex ex boyfriend twice removed made the error of letting me book all holidays. The only thing I had to avoid was his sporting calendar. So, couldn’t be away or even travelling if Sheffield had a match, any cricket was on, major athletics tournaments, tennis, horseracing… in fact, even if there was a kabaddi tournament. Sport Billy (as he is affectionately remembered), wondered why I used to have so many holidays without him. Bless. Anyway, funny things happen in life and I am tickled pink that has sponsored Sheffield United Football Club. And bet Billy’s not quite so impressed being reminded of me every time his beloved team step out on the pitch this season. Tee hee.
The shirts are the ‘Blades’ and our traditional red and white, talk about maintaining empathy with brand; and have the across the burly championship players chests. In the last 10 days alone, three thousand new season club shirts have been sold to fans and another 17,000 will fly off the shelves just in time to be worn by said fans on holidays to escape the abysmal British weather, shopping trips, just about every pub in Yorkshire advertising our product. The schedule of league matches has also been announced, showing that 12 games will be televised on Sky Sports, airing the MTA’s consumer portal address to literally millions of viewers; you know the bit where a player is asked a how does it feel to win / lose type question? The backdrop will also show the address. Hoping that viewers take note of this address and not do what I used to do which was try and see if a logo was the wrong way round, well, I hadn’t met the players in the flesh then. Hope the others are as handsome, charming and witty as the PR squad. The average number of fans at a game is 25,000, imagine almost half of these in the new strip? And the away fans that have souvenir programme’s will also be subjected to Malta. The more you think about it, this is a fantastically clever deal.
The old institution of regurgitating a match for longer than it was played happens on programmes like Match of the Day as well, so it’s anticipated that even more eyeballs will see the URL. And not all of them are beer swilling, hairy legged Neanderthals. Some girlfriends are subjected to this torture too.
This deal is pretty revolutionary – it’s the first time that a country has sponsored a team – and not just the MTA will be watching how it goes. Soccerex, who are in the business of football marketing, have taken an interest in the project and are watching closely.
But it’s not all about money and fame. The team will be managing an academy for emerging young players here in Malta, capable of playing for the national team as well as overseeing the development of a community programme for Malta’s youngsters. Talking of which, Sheffield United recently welcomed the current Maltese international goalkeeper - Justin Haber - to the club. He had a trial at Sheffield United two years ago, and may I say although ever so slightly young for me, one very, very good reason to watch the beautiful game.

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