Stanley managing director Rob Heys admits the new six-figure sponsorship deal by Store First will help to secure the future of the League Two club.
Store First were this week unveiled as the new stadium and shirt sponsors of the Reds in a three-year deal. From now on the Crown Ground will be known as the Store First Stadium – after being the Interlink Express Stadium and Fraser Eagle Stadium in the past.
And the club will don a new yellow and blue kit – the colour of Store First – as a third kit although they will launch the new strip at Saturday’s home clash with AFC Wimbledon.
“This deal is massive for us,” said Heys, with former sponsors Cleverboxes now involved with the Reds’ youth team.
“We do not like to go on that we are a small club but we are in Football League terms – we were big fishes in non-league but we always wanted to move on and move up.
“Now we’re in the Football League, we have to accept we are one of the smaller clubs with smaller attendances and it’s kind of a battle to stay there – but it’s where we want to be.
“We are always looking for support and we are pleased local company Store First have become our new sponsors, it’s huge for us
“It is a bad economic climate at the moment but hopefully other local companies will see Sport First believing in us and will want to follow suit.
“You look at Premier League clubs, not to be critical, and they have sponsors from the other side of the world but I think it’s fantastic that a local company who employs local people wants to be involved with a local football team and continues that community feel to the club.”
Heys admitted it was a bumper deal that will help the Reds at a time when it’s a massive struggle for a lot of businesses financially.
“It is the biggest deal in Accrington Stanley history – it’s six figures over three years – and it’s fantastic as it raises the awareness of the company and hopefully, with the positive exposure we can offer as a football club, we can return the favour and raise brand awareness for them.
“We do get £1m from other sources during a season but this is a massive help to us.
“As well as this we need to keep picking money up from other sources and this will keep us going.
“We don’t just want to survive, we want to push on and get rid of the tag that we are the smallest club in the league.”
It is a worrying time for the Reds at the moment as they battle against relegation but the new deal has given the club a boost.
“Relegation is not a banned word but it’s not something we’re really contemplating at the moment,” said the managing director.
“We aren’t worrying about going down, we are confident.
“We feel we have enough talent in the squad to keep us up and we have a young manager with good contacts and experienced people around him.
“We know we need a couple of wins, which we are more than capable of delivering, and that will ease the pressure.
“Leam is not under any pressure, the majority of the fans aren’t putting him under pressure, it’s the pressure he puts on himself.
“But our club has always had a never-say-die attitude. People write us off season after season – every year the bookmakers have us as favourites to go down and we keep defying the odds.
“We want to get away from this and this kind of deal can help us build for the future.”
While the team are battling, the influx of cash will not all go to the playing budget but the club have other plans for it.
“We do have a playing budget which Leam will stick to but we have other pressures to spend the money elsewhere as well,” added the managing director.
“We want to improve the facilities at the Store First Stadium – we want to make it a great place for people to come to. and we do want to spend money on the ground.”
Storage company Store First is based in the North West with their first centres in Burnley and Blackburn before they expanded to Rochdale, Liverpool and Barnsley.
“Accrington is in between our first sites so it’s nicely placed, it’s great that Accrington is inbetween and we can sponsor them.” said Store First operations director Stuart Laverty.
“Football is massive, and in terms of PR, this deal gets our name out there with Accrington Stanley and we are a local company supporting a local club.”
Store First managing director John Slater said: “We are the fastest growing storage company in the UK and we are looking to spread out from the north west to go nationwide.
“We want to sponsor local business events, we sponsor many young teams at grass roots level and now a club like this so it’s great for us.
“We have staff who are Accrington Stanley fans so it’s great we can spread the joy.”