From Villains to Heroes

Aston Villa Acorns Children's Hospice Strip

Last year I wrote a celebration of then European champions Barcelona, who eschewed perhaps more than 50 million euros in revenue to ink a shirt-logo deal with UNICEF, rather than with a commercial interest. It looks as if other football clubs are following suit.

In a press conference today in Birmingham, English Premiership side Aston Villa announced that next season, its strip will carry the emblem of Acorn Children’s Hospice, an institution providing year-round respite care, end-of-life care, and bereavement services across the West Midlands region in which Aston Villa is based.

Villa’s 2007-2008 shirt deal, with the internet gambling company, was worth approximately 2 million pounds (2.5 million euros). Now, like Barça, they are giving away the high-profile promotional space. Duncan Riddle, Villa’s head of community outreach, said that numerous commercial offers had been turned down in favor of supporting the charity. “Yes, the shirts have monetary value,” he said, “but they also have emotional value to fans and this is something to give back to them.”

The club is refreshingly candid about both the compassionate and self-interested aspects of the new shirt deal:

To some extent, placing Acorns on our match day shirt is an experiment. But it is already an involvement with which we, as an organisation, feel increasingly positive. It is our hope that we are able to introduce this partnership to new and existing business relationships which will generate economic value to support the Club’s competitive ambitions and, at the same time giving a truly wonderful organisation a significant platform from which to touch more people.

Read the full text of Villa’s announcement, from their website.

The new Aston Villa kit has not yet been unveiled; but I’ll certainly post it when as soon as it is. (The image above is my Photoshop jiggering.)

There are so few positive trends in big-money football these days; let’s hope this beautiful one continues.


2 Responses to “From Villains to Heroes”

  1. 1 mbjesq 11 December 2010 at 12:32 am

    I’m looking back at this post after a year-and-a-half and have to say: my anticipatory Photoshoped rendering of the kit turned-out a whole-lot better than what they actually wound-up using.

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