Norwich City has announced the termination of its short-lived commercial sponsorship deal with Asian operator, BK8 Sports.
The deal, which was confirmed on Monday, was met with widespread criticism from fans of the newly promoted Premier League club, after supporters uncovered ‘sexually provocative’ social media marketing campaigns published across BK8’s channels.
Since the announcement, a number of supporter groups have expressed their dismay at the sponsorship arrangement, with the Canaries Trust insisting that the images posted by BK8 ‘go against the values of the club’ and were ‘not acceptable’.
Both the club and the company ‘wholeheartedly’ apologised for any offence caused by the ‘historical marketing’ campaigns, which depicted women in an inappropriate manner.
However, Norwich said it had ‘taken on board feedback from its supporters and partners’ and ‘agreed to immediately end the partnership’.
Norwich City’s Chief Operating Officer, Ben Kensell, noted: “We have worked hard to build trust and engagement through our countless initiatives with our supporters and partners. We place huge value on our open and honest relationships with our community and supporters.
“As a self-financed club there is always a fine balance between generating the revenue levels required to help maintain that model, whilst working within our visions and values.
“On this occasion, we made an error of judgement. Our standards were not at the levels we demand of our football club.”
The online gaming and sports betting brand was due to replace record sponsor Dafabet as the top-flight side’s principal partner, meaning Norwich would be sponsored by a betting operator for the fifth consecutive season.
Upon the announcement, Kensell praised the ‘valuable source of revenue’ that the gambling industry contributes to the club, adding that the deal would make a ‘meaningful difference’ to Norwich’s ‘wider objectives’.
“We can now only apologise to our supporters and former players, Grant Holt and Darren Eadie, who were across the BK8 promotional launch campaign, for any offence caused,” Kensell continued.
“We remain highly committed to diversity and equality across our football club and its community. We want to continue to embed a highly inclusive culture across the club, together with an accessible and welcoming environment free of demeaning and discriminatory behaviours.”
Norwich vowed to conduct a review of its marketing strategy in the wake of the backlash, but has now opted to terminate the collaboration, with an announcement to be made on a replacement sponsor in due course.