BOGNOR chief Jack Pearce issued an appeal to the West Sussex business community, telling them: We need you to help keep us competing.
As clubs across the south soar through the divisions with the help of major financial backers, the Rocks have to rely on a larger number of smaller-scale sponsors to ensure they can survive in the Ryman premier.
The club have just launched their bid for firms and groups to enter a sponsors’ draw which could see them end up as the club’s main sponsor for only £180.
The Rocks operate a novel scheme which sees all sponsors pay the same amount – £150 plus VAT – to stand a chance of being drawn out of a hat as main shirt sponsor or win one of about 15 consolation prizes, including being matchday and matchball sponsors.
All those who enter get their business’s name in the matchday programme throughout the season.
The season just finished saw FRH Machining earn the right to be main sponsor when the prize – originally won by Nyewood Lane legend Paul Pullen’s Acclaimed Financial Group – was put up for auction.
Considering the level we play at, we have an excellent supporter base and are grateful for that – we get five times as many fans as Whitehawk, for example – but the number of fans you have doesn’t govern how far you can go.Jack Pearce
Club general manager Pearce said FRH’s Adrian Hay had been a long-term supporter of the Rocks and had enjoyed his year in the limelight – but now it was time to find the successor.
“The simple fact is without the sponsors’ draw and the money it brings in, we wouldn’t be able to compete at anything like the level we are at,” said Pearce, who is coming up to his 45th anniversary at the Rocks.
“We normally have between 100 and 110 entering and we have a retention rate of about 85 per cent. That’s very good but it does mean we are always needing to find new firms who are willing to go in the draw.
“We hold a very popular draw night before the season starts which all sponsors and their partners or guests are invited to, where there’s plenty to eat and drink and we draw out all the winners.”
Pearce said money was becoming a bigger factor all the time in determining how successful a football club could be.
He pointed to the success of local sides like Whitehawk, Havant and Gosport, who have all just finished in the top six of Conference South, and Eastleigh, who reached the Conference National play-offs, and said Bognor fans could be forgiven for asking why their club was not rising through the ranks at the same pace.
But he added: “The basic reason is they are heavily financed by individuals and sponsors and we have never been able to attract anyone at that level.
“Considering the level we play at, we have an excellent supporter base and are grateful for that – we get five times as many fans as Whitehawk, for example – but the number of fans you have doesn’t govern how far you can go.
“All our small sponsors are vital to us and we hope they, and maybe some new backers, will get involved for next season.”
The Rocks, who have Pompey among their pre-season visitors on Friday, July 17, have until the third week of July to find sponsors for the draw.
Anyone interested should call the club on 01243 822325 between 10am and midday on weekdays, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see the sponsors and commercial sections at www.therocks.co.uk
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