Stoke City: bet365 put their shirts on Stoke City
INTERNET gambling giants bet365 are Stoke City's new shirt sponsors after agreeing a substantial seven-figure deal with the club.
The Coates family, who are the majority shareholders of both bet365 and Stoke City, have agreed a deal which will see the club's shirts carry the company's name and logo for the next three years.
Potteries-based bet365, who announced annual profits of £91.2m in the 12 months to March last year, become the ninth company to sponsor Stoke's shirt since advertising was first permitted in the 1980s.
Denise Coates, daughter of Stoke City chairman Peter Coates and joint chief executive of bet365, said: "We are delighted to have reached an agreement to become Stoke City's shirt sponsors.
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"It is a perfect fit for us as a Stoke-on-Trent-based company with a global reach and international markets.
"It also further demonstrates our long-term commitment to the club."
Today's news ends Britannia's 15-year shirt sponsorship with Stoke.
They have sponsored both the club's stadium and shirt since Stoke moved from the Victoria Ground in 1997. Their stadium deal is due to run until 2016.
The two parties signed a four-year extension to their shirt deal in 2009 which was worth £4m and due to run until 2013.
Only last September, Co-operative Financial Services, which took over the Britannia Building Society two years ago, said there were no plans to remove Britannia's name from Stoke's shirt or stadium.
However, the remaining 12 months of their shirt deal has been terminated, and the firm will now become the club's banking and community partner for an initial two seasons.
Today's announcement also opens up the intriguing possibility of Stoke's HQ one day being re-christened the bet365 Arena.
Welcoming the bet365 and Britannia announcements, Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes, said: "The club is already hugely indebted to the support from bet365 and its owners, the Coates family.
"While Britannia and the Co-operative Group focus more on local and national markets, bet365, who are the largest private sector employers in the area, operate on a global basis.
"This agreement with bet365 means we have been able to maximise the international element of the club's exposure.
"We received a number of offers from potential sponsors, but bet365 were the highest bidders."
Barry Tootell, chief executive of the Co-operative Bank, added: "Our relationship with Stoke City is very special. North Staffordshire is a key trading area for the whole of the Co-operative Group.
"Developing our involvement with the club's community programme is a natural fit for our Co-operative businesses because it is extremely important for us to support areas in which we trade."
GLENN Whelan and Jon Walters have been named in the Republic of Ireland's 23-man squad for next month's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Peter Crouch, Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross head those players competing for Stoke City's coveted player-of-the-year trophy at the club's annual awards dinner at the King's Hall this evening.