Often Partisan

Sponsors and Controversy

Birmingham City today announced a new partnership agreement with e-cigarette firm Nicolites that will see the Birmingham based firm’s logo emblazoned on Blues shirts for the new season. The deal will also see junior, infant and baby shirts along with the Academy carry the logo of Help Harry Help Others for the 2013/14 season.

I think it’s fair to say that this new sponsorship deal has somewhat divided fans. I asked followers of OP on Facebook and Twitter if they were happy, unhappy or ambivalent to the deal and got a very evenly mixed response. Some fans were happy a deal had been tied up to bring money into the club; some fans were unhappy that a company such as Nicolites will adorn the royal blue shirt whilst some were not bothered either way as they saw it unimportant.

I spoke to the club this afternoon with respect to the deal, and they told me that the figures involved were “substantial” and that they represented one of the better advertising deals within the Championship. The club also advised that this deal wasn’t the only one on the table; the club confirmed that they had several options to go with and they picked this one as best for the club.

From a personal point of view, as much as I can understand why some aren’t happy with the deal I don’t see the problem. As much as I think some disapprove of the kind of product Nicolites sells, it’s my personal belief that the product they sell is potentially more ethical than a casino/online gambling sponsor and definitely more ethical than a payday loan firm such as wonga.com.

Furthermore, as much as I hate saying this there seems to be no place for ethics within football any more; Birmingham City have a registered sex offender playing up front for them without too many people being unhappy. In the past we have played a winger with a tag on his  ankle  after being let out of prison on licence following a conviction for a drink-driving offence and notwithstanding our current owner’s legal woes, our previous owner had a criminal conviction for living off immoral earnings. Clearly having a e-cigarette company sponsoring the shirts isn’t the only ethical dilemma Blues fans have had.

I will admit my own personal cynicism that Nicolites have allowed Help Harry Help Others to be displayed on kids shirts. It’s true that there are currently no rules as to advertising of this kind of firm on kids shirts but by Nicolites doing this they have effectively dodged that question. I’d be interested to know if any money from the sale of junior/infant/baby shirts will go to HHHO.

I think we have to look at the positives. Blues have tied up a sponsorship deal for the season by the middle of June, which is healthy in comparison to EZE Group (July09 2012), and Rational FX (August 3 2011). It represents a boost to cashflow in the coffers that the club needs and if it is as substantial as BCFC have said then hopefully it will go someway to helping ease some of the cashflow worries at the club.

Talking Points sponsored by John Hicken Industrial roofing and cladding materials

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102 Responses to “Sponsors and Controversy”

  • tony says:

    I can’t see a problem with their name on the shirts. As for the ‘help harry help others’ on the juniors tops then whatever the reason it has to be good advertising for the charity.Can’t see the club giving the charity any proceeds from the sales but still a good PR exercise which lets face it can’t be a bad thing.

  • Chris Smith says:

    “Furthermore, as much as I hate saying this there seems to be no place for ethics within football any more; Birmingham City have a registered sex offender playing up front for them without too many people being unhappy.”

    Time served on most counts, he’s on the register for seven years as of 2008 so he’s got round about two more years on that. And if we all took that view a lot of the lads I’ve worked with over the years would never have jobs ever.

    Clearly having a e-cigarette company sponsoring the shirts isn’t the only ethical dilemma Blues fans have had. Would you rather have Richmond Superkings on the front? E-Cigs are a way out of smoking. I’m toying with the idea, I’ll be having a look at them when I’m through the baccy I have now. Also I can use them indoors.

    • roskoe says:

      “Time served on most counts, he’s on the register for seven years as of 2008 so he’s got round about two more years on that. And if we all took that view a lot of the lads I’ve worked with over the years would never have jobs ever.”

      Is that in reference to all crimes/misdemeanors or just sex offences? I for one wouldn’t work with anyone with MK’s record and wouldn’t be friends with them either.

      • Chris Smith says:

        That’s in reference to various henious crimes. Most of the lads I did work with round then that were on licence had anything from drugs to gbh to wounding with intent. Part of the contract is that they hold down a job for X. It’s a bit like a post sentence suspended sentence. Some of the lads are twats, they end up back inside, but a lot do change their world view and want to restart. Just don’t piss them off.

        In terms of the sex offender you have to bare in mind that the guy is working at a club with an academy and wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the club if his conviction put the kids at risk. On top of that there is an expiry date on his listing which means if he keeps his nose clean on that front he comes off it. It’s a bit like coming out of prison on licence.

        And yes, MK needs to sort himself out still, esp on the driving front.

  • CornwallBlue says:

    Also to note kit is out July 05-slightly earlier than past seasons. Could play a part in things

  • Paulo says:

    On one hand I admit this is good, as it is a ‘local’ sponshorship deal and brings with it some much needed funding into the club in what is basically hard times. The product that Nicolites sell is there to serve the stopping smoking trend (not ‘smoking’). It’s an e-cigarette. I don’t smoke, and if I did I’d be a hypocrite to moan about it really. My only concern is it is on junior shirts, and as such I wont be buying my daughter one with this sponsor on. I also asked her and explained to her what it was, to which she has also said no to one, she is happy with her black and pink away shirt this time.
    As for me, I’d wear one, but I like the one just gone. It’s a shame that we’re bringing out tops too quickly really, they do cost a bit.

    • daza says:

      Paulo, the junior tops will have the the Help Harry logo on rather than the elites one. So go ahead and buy one! At least we have a sponser this year, remember the embarassment of the new sponser every game idea a couple of years back? Kro

    • BluenoseDownunder says:

      Good point raised by KazakBlue it’s a great shame that some of the traditional brum based giant industries couldn’t come to the party. Can’t say i agree with the morals of this product it’s just promoting a more socially acceptable way of drug taking. Times are tough though and our club needs alls the help it can get so good luck to them but i wont be buying a new shirt this year. KRO

    • eddie says:

      why comment if you haven’t read the article?

  • Aussiebrum says:

    It’ a prudent commercial decision – well done to the commercial department and thank you to our new sponsor.

  • Southy says:

    Nicolites Zigic.

  • Pete says:

    Not unethical product.
    Local firm.
    Offering to promote for Help for Harry charity.
    Best deal on the table.
    No issue.

  • KazakBlue says:

    As Pete rightly states, it is a local firm, doing well in difficult times, also with support for Help for Harry being pushed into the publics eye, I have no problem at all.

    Just seems a great pity that Jaguar Land Rover and other giant conglomerates around the Midlands who employ thousands of Brummies, cannot seem to offer sufficient sponsorship even for a season or two, to not only the Blues but to other West Midland Clubs.

    Or am I just being cynical??

  • Macc lad says:

    Pretty much agree with what you’ve put there Dan.

    We can grumble about the details, but basically it’s a good deal for the club.

  • ChrisG says:

    I wonder if anyone knows when the last time was that Blues wore the same shirt in consecutive seasons. It must be over 20 years ago. I certainly can’t remember!!

  • Marky mark says:

    Message to Nicolites

    Please make the cheque out to BCFC and not PETER PANNU.

    Would hate for the money to accidentally go in the wrong account !

  • Art Watson says:

    Dan…the figures involved are substantial.

    Do you know how much the deal is worth or have the club been instructed not to disclose the amount.?

    • StaffsBlue says:

      It seems everything to do with money in the game these days is “undisclosed” Art. Is there any wonder there’s so much suspicion in the game now.

      I think the only ones who trumpet their payments loud and clear… are Sky, who, for me, are the ones guilty of almost singlehandedly ruining our beautiful game.

    • almajir says:


      They’ve not given me a figure, but have informed me that it is one of the best in the division.

  • Blueboy 88 says:

    With all the problems & challenges BCFC are currently confronting, with survival being at the top of that list…this “controversial” sponsership deal with a e-Cigarettes really is a non issue …

  • Art Watson says:


    Yes you are right and I think football is unique and in many area’s lacks transparency.

    Unfortunately the fans ,who in the main finance the club ,get a raw deal and are treated badly.

    Board Directors play on the supporters loyalty and give very little thought to how they feel or indeed their traditional roots which in the main are family orientated and go back through the generations.

    They work on the basis that “Information is Power” and god forbid us fans can’t have this can we?

  • dave mann says:

    i said yesterday that ime not happy with the sponsor but there backing us and in the current
    climate we cant really moan to much can we .
    all season ticket holders should be given more information on our financual situation because
    we help to finance the club and that should be our right by LAW! KRO.

  • Leigh says:

    Chris I was on 50 aday aged 40….haven’t had one in twenty two years, believe me if you want to give up you do not need a substitute,,if you do, then you do not realy want to stop.
    All I can say the timing is absolutely appallins,, if the company made land mines would it be ok if HHHO were displayed or is this just a sop to the masses.
    I too would like to know what ‘substantial’ means, I am not stupid enough to expect to be informed for what the funds may be used

  • Garyblues says:

    I would rather this product than a advertisement for Wonga or similar

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I really can’t see how this deal is unethical in any way. The company is attempting to wean people off cigarettes. There’s no tobacco in the electro-cigarettes and none of the usual toxic substances. So I don’t see the problem. There are far far worse companies that could be sponsoring us… like tax evaders Google, Amazon and Starbucks.

  • mark says:

    Storm in a tea cup, more important things needs addressing imo

    • StaffsBlue says:

      The one thing that I think would cheer (some) fans up, is if Lee Clark was given a few bob to spend. We’re not talking millions here… maybe not even a million, but enough to bring in one quality player. Would do for me.

  • dave mann says:

    being sponsored by those tax evaders would blend in well with carsons predicament
    dont you think.money laundering, tax evaders, not to dissimalar would compliment
    each other
    only joking.
    cant wait to see the fixtures next wednesday lol.KRO.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      Would be ironic wouldn’t it dave? Still, at least we could have a coffee and a book to read while we surfed the net at half time. :-)

  • Matt says:

    Bottom line is it’s advertising nicotine products to children. It’s legal for kids to buy these until they’re classified in 2016. If you’d put one in the mouths of your kids, or neices, nephews or godchildren then fine, buy the shirt, wear it with pride. I’m not going to be responsible for being a walking product endorsement for a product that could get kids addicted to nicotine, no matter how much money it makes the club. Putting a nicotine product endorsement next to the HHHO charity (which as we all know helps kids with cancer) is just sick in my book.

    I know we’re financially bankrupt, I think we just stepped into moral / ethical bankruptcy more than we ever were before.

    • AuldBertie says:

      Couldn’t agree more Matt. It’s grotesque in my book and hearing other offers were available makes the situation even worse.

    • Pele says:

      If ure kids will suddenly start smoking because of advertising a product to help people STOP smokingthen maybe you have some questions to answer regarding the message you give to your children. Is it no longer parents responsibility to teach that message… we have a culture in this country of blaming everyone and everything for our kids actions………….. exceptthe parents who are supposed to be raising them!!!

    • Alex T says:

      utter nonsense in my view…..

      This is a product that is the best thing to happen to the NHS in decades. Thousands of people will stop smoking. Why do you think the tobacco industry has been behind the move for e-lites to be regulated in this way?

  • Evesham Blue says:

    Personally think that a product that helps you to stop smoking tobacco is a good thing potentially? Havent made my mind up yet as havent tried it but open. Certainly its a product that has big demand right now and is still rising. Alot of people vouch for them.

    Its a good deal for Blues and its good for a local company as well. Whats the problem? Its not a matter of ethics or passing judgement. People buy these products. Its their choice to do so.

  • sappy sad says:

    ……..after 38 years of smoking such a false fag helped me kick the habit …..only just in time mind you ,as my lungs have mild damage…..a couple more years of smoking and I would be carrying a oxygen bottle around with me …….DONT KNOCK IT …..ROCK IT

  • blaneh says:

    Good from a club point of view as it will hopefully bring in much needed funds, but I don’t see the problem with it being a moral issue, would the same be being said if we were sponsored by Carling/Carlsberg/Stella/Heinekan/Budweiser?

    KazakBlue I agree with you, would be nice to see some of the local big hitters sponsoring midlands clubs, but fact is how many of those local big hitters are owned by anyone in the UK? Not many I would wager.


    • KazakBlue says:

      Hi Blaneh,

      yes I think your right about the major industrials being also controlled by foreign individuals and banks and venture capitalists.

      But I also think that the majority of them also owe their continued good fortune to the skills and commitment of the Birmingham and West Midlands workforce, of which club they support is not important. The workforce also then supply many other businesses and keep others employed from their wages.

      Could it not be, that a major company, such as Jaguar for example, buys the match ball for a season (Not very expensive) or agrees to pay for 500 children up to the age of 14 to attend every match at home, with 10% of that total being given to Harry’s charity, new supporters, future growth?

      It’s only a couple of little ideas, and I am sure that others on this site would have their own ideas.

      Personally I would contact Warren Buffet at Berkshire Hathaway, and try to convince him that for very little outlay in his grand scheme of things, Blues would be an excellent long term investment.

  • TracyKRO says:

    Years ago they used to advertise cigs everywhere on tv,radio,posters on walls and buses, people have got the choice now with this Nicolites to try and kick the habit so in that way I think its a good thing they wasn’t around when I stopped.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I quit just like that, after 30 years. Didn’t need any help. But, not everyone can do it like that. I don’t see what harm a bit of help does. After all, real drug addicts get help… why not smokers?

  • DoctorD says:

    I don’t mind it. In fact, if it gets the world talking a bit about the Blues, that’s got to be a good thing. Like others have said, advertizing booze and pay-day loans is probably worse.

  • dave mann says:

    as a non smoker its very difficult to argue with any bodys view on our new sponsors
    who have smoked so i will leave it at that.KRO.

  • DoctorD says:

    And on a related note, may I say I think the 2012-13 home kit was a pretty good effort. I’ve got the missis and kids kitted out on it and it looks the business. I hope next year’s kit (with the Nicolites logo) looks good too. I presume it’ll be a new design (again). As Blues fans will know, there have been some right stinkers for kit over the years — notably that Triton showers garbage with the migraine-inducing green and yellow vomitty flecks on it.

  • Marky mark says:

    !! How can you consciously contemplate when there’s no debate no debate !!

  • chudlt says:

    It would be interesting to know if the supporters of this sponsorship are smokers or not. This is a nicotine based product that is on the market to get around tobacco bans and make the company money. It endorses the use of nicotine which as we all know is addictive and harmful/.

    • Alex T says:

      Supporters of this sponsorship alooking at the comments) are both smokers and non smokers.

      I myself am an ex smoker (gave up myself quite easily, luckily for me) and a dad of 2 and am a big fan of this product. I think the benefits outweigh the harm by a 100 to 1. The nicotine, whilst not healthy by any means, is no where near as bad as breathing in smoke. And if it means smokers can give up the fags, then this is a good product in my book.

      and if kids did smoke these things……. yes, thats unpalatable but well, I would rather that than what I was smoking when I was 12

  • mike says:

    with all the comments..just a thought…eze, are they something to do with timeshare?

  • dave mann says:

    still got that top in one of my draws at home doctor, looks as good as new and still fits
    aswell , fantastic, bring back the kumars……ah,ah,ah,ah.KRO.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    I would hope that no one is suggesting I should hand back my season ticket as I was done for D&D when I was 21. Also for any fans who are concerned about being assoicated with smoking products, I would suggest we are all associated as we often have our nostrils filled by the fumes of cannabis smokers at the ground. As an IBS sufferer I have also had to clinch my cheeks whilst waiting for “rollers” to vacate the traps at the Cov Road toilets. All in all it looks like a good deal to me and if its one of the best deals in the Chamiponship then well done!

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I think the “Ayes” have it.

  • Alan Watton says:

    Its an indication of what level we have sunk as we can no longer attract a sponsor from a local respectable company. With the ban on advertising of alcohol, and tobacco the purveyors of other addictive activities have leapt in to fill the void. The proliferation of gambling firms on the fronts of football shirts encourages addiction and corruption.
    This however limbo dances under the low bar that has been set by clubs chasing ‘the filthiest of lucre”

  • Bcfc1955 says:

    No issue with me whatever with this sponsorship

    Well done to the Commercial department for getting this deal done particularly so early in the summer

    I am getting my season ticket next week come on fans lets get behind the young team our Manager is building

  • Matt says:

    If there’s nothing wrong with this product being sold to kids then I’m sure you’d all be ok if your 9 year old went out and bought one would you? It’s not illegal to do so. The shop hasn’t broken any laws doing that. The guy behind the counter has nothing and nobody to answer to. He took the money that was offered to him in exchange for selling a product.

    Or would your child that it’s addictive and bad for them?

    But they saw it advertised on the shirt their club hero wears, so that makes it ok, I mean, hey, if he wears the shirt and the shirt sells this product then it’s cool, yeah? And that’s my point. In a world where kids copy role models, putting this logo on a shirt isn’t good. No matter how many NHS patients it saves, no matter if it’s better than cigarettes, no matter if it’s not illegal, if you wouldn’t put one of these in the mouth of your kids, we as a club shouldn’t be advertising their use to youngsters.

    We’re no better than the shopkeeper. We’re not breaking the law, but we should know better than this.

    End of.

    • Pele says:

      By thats logic you are saying that in the early 90’s there were plenty of bluenose kids running around desperate to get their hands on a triton shower?! or after that going around smashing windscreens so that auto windshield would come out to fix it?! if a 9yr old starts smoking there must be something seriously wrong at home

  • dave mann says:

    lee clark deserves the respect of every blue nose for what hes trying to achieve.
    hes always pushing and promoting our club and trying to sell it to future targets.
    get of his back and let him get on with rebuilding this great club of ours.
    if you dont want him there, then WE dont want you there. STAY AWAY.KRO.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I have a sneaky feeling we’ll be flying this season dave. If Lee Clark can get in all, or most of his targets, I think we’ll be one of the better squads in the division. After all, money doesn’t always buy you success, ask Leicester.

    • mark says:

      Here here……Dave…….it building up nicely, the old saying is things are going to get better…..sky motto……..l believe……inclarkwetrust……..

    • Bluenosesol says:

      In one of our darkest hours, there are so many positives abounding. We have a manger who has great faith in the club and our ability to achieve and who is successful at selling the club to potential recruits, we have secured a sponsorship which commercially is as good as anything in the Championship and the squad is shaping up to be a top half contender rather than a seat of our pants survivor. I agree, this is going to be a great season and i can not wait for it!! KRO!

  • AL-LAD says:

    As a gesture to the fans, and since this deal has caused a little bit of debate amoungst us, will the club not allow adult fans, if opposed, to buy an adult shirt with the Help Harry Help Others logo instead?

    Worth mentioning to the commerical department at BCFC.

    Almajir – have you heard the rumour that Swindon Town are in a finanical mess and looking to off-load Caddis as cheap as possible, or even loan him out next season as long as a club pay 100% of he’s salary?

  • Tony says:

    Complete non event as regards a blog topic ,nothing wrong with a product to help stop smoking the ayes have it about 15-1 .some of you people do not live in the real world As has been mentioned previous owners earned living from sex industry,reluctant to sign Bowyer for fear of upseting Asian population,players with tags on ankle.sex convictions, hundreds of cases of Assault going back decades.
    Cant believe this topic is worthy of discussion lets move on. to all those self righteous, indignent among you Get a life

  • JohnBond says:

    I cannot see the problem with the shirt sponsor still haven’t seen the new shirt yet, but the e/cigs are great I have only been smoking for about 4 years haven’t had a fag since January don’t really use my e-cig anymore but it helped in a way, I can see the frustration from some fans but as someone has said there’s a lot worse sponsors out there, I think the new sponsor is 50/50 there’s good points and there’s bad.. Just like nearly everything in life,
    Aslong as it doesn’t affect the way we play I couldn’t care if the shirt had got one of the local mosques as a sponsor tbh

  • Tony says:

    Wrong in what way Mark?

  • dave mann says:

    2 centre halves, 1 left winger, 1 holding midfielder who can pass the ball and maybe
    another forward/ striker type player and theres no reason we cant suprise a lot of
    the big spenders and push for the playoffs at least and i mean that, not joking this

  • Tony says:

    Mark I truly dont care about the Asian population of my city, I dont care who is convicted of what, I dont care about anyones kids nor Harry. People go on about the large industrial firms sponsering us many of them make money from the sweatshops of India .This is a Birmingham company get the money in.

  • mark says:

    It a topic dan put on his blog, and fans and making their opinions why do they need to get a life?

  • KRO says:

    Id love a blues Ecig if any of them are going haha! So many whiners on here today, happy to have nicolite plastered on my shirt instead of a loan shark or betting firm. As for encouraging kids to smoke, if your 9 year old starts smoking you should be looking closer to home instead of blaming people walking around with a cig in their mouth or an advertisement on a shirt.

  • Tony says:

    self righteous fools

  • dave mann says:

    spending time on this blog, going to most blues games home and away, great wife, great son,
    great dog, great job, money in the bank, plenty of holidays, ive defenetley got a life.
    thanks tony..KRO.

  • Marky mark says:


    Im with you, absolute no brainer and nothing to debate.

    To many fog knitters and two faced politically correct fools in our society today.

  • utbb says:

    thats one blues top i wont be buying

  • StaffsBlue says:

    How strange (not) that it seems to be only the anti-s who are calling silly names.

  • dave mann says:

    i think they come on here and stir all the genuine fans , who do care and worry
    about the present problems, but i dont mind i like a good chinwag especially with
    someone who doesnt have a clue or aint bothered whats goimg on……….sad.KRO.

  • sappy sad says:

    ………….all in all the facts are we are still being polluted by the Japanese power station….damaged by the tsnami……..they have forcast that in the future 47% of people will get cancer …..I cant see why there should be any reason why there should be any opposition to a company for trying to stop so much suffering at such a high cost to the tax payer ……..putting it on prescription will just make it easier to get cigerettes …..it should be legal over 18 and on prescription under 18 ……I can see the government using these false fags as another way to tax the masses with the loss on tobacco tax ….other than that the road ahead is getting clearer and longer.once again ….were building up speed and were smokin…………….nicolites that is ……..keep right on…..

  • dave mann says:

    your points are well detailed sappy. but your bang on.
    can you imagine first home game of the season if 15,000
    blue noses all lighting up with nicolites, now that would
    help the game from being a drag and improve the atmosphere(get it )

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Should be Persil or Zanussi sponsering us. Not bothered really it sounds a good deal for the club.

  • suenoble says:

    I think it’s unethical because those nicolites are nowhere near as good as the real thing, they are imposters!

  • Blueboy 88 says:

    However it does raise the question of how powerful football shirt advertising is though ..

    Has anybody been influenced to purchase a product or service after seeing it advertised on a footballer ?

  • Paulo says:

    ..and who says politics has no place in football?

  • mark says:

    tony – harry was a kid, but I think you slightly over stepped the mark. Harry was a bluenose, and his life was cut short. This is a wonderful gesture by our sponsors to keep his memory alive.

  • Tony says:

    Marky Dan censored my remarks for saying exactly the same thing as you.

  • Tony says:

    Yes Dave but for all that where do you live?/

  • mark says:

    why on earth would fans jump up and down about this sponsors, any funding coming into bcfc is surely beneficial…………………..

  • mark says:

    fans need to understand how do they thing a club survive on thin air…………

  • mark says:

    gambling advertising far dangerous ????

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    You choose your sponsors / partners carefully and choose one that is looking to profit out of the misery of others.

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