Norwich City apologise to former Hibs striker Grant Holt after BK8 sponsorship fiasco
Norwich City have issued a public apology to club legend Grant Holt following their brief but controversial partnership with a betting firm.
The Canaries announced a tie-up on June 7 with BK8 Sports, a firm that held “a strong position within the Asian betting market” with “serious ambitions to continue to grow its brand and customer base through its partnerships within the Premier League” and roped in Holt to help launch the new strip.
But the club was met with a backlash from fans as a result of the company’s marketing techniques. BK8’s social media platforms carried images of scantily-clad women while their YouTube channel featured videos depicting women carrying out activites with obvious sexual innuendo.
One fan wrote on social media: “So today we confirmed we sold our best player and announced a new shirt sponsor with an Asian betting firm with 200 Twitter followers and an Instagram page that is basically soft porn. It’s not even midday.”
The Instagram page was removed, although the YouTube account remained active with some of the more questionable clips deleted.
Supporters group the Canaries Trust issued a strongly-worded statement, pointing out that such imagery “goes against the value of the club” and four days after announcing the partnership, Norwich City pulled the plug admitting they had “got it wrong”.
A statement from the club read: “Norwich City can announce the mutual termination of the club’s commercial partnership with BK8.
“The club and BK8 have taken on board feedback from its supporters and partners, and after continued discussions we have agreed to immediately end the partnership.
“As a club, we’re proud of our place within the local community and our relationship with supporters around the world. We have worked tirelessly for a considerable time building relationships across a wide range of mediums and community projects.
“Whilst we anticipated some negative responses to the announcement of the partnership with a betting company, the club understands the reaction to BK8, their affiliates and other similar brands’ ways of marketing, the values of which do not align with those of the football club.
“On this occasion, we got it wrong. For that, and any offence caused, the club apologises.”
The club is now in the process of identifying a new shirt sponsor.
Chief operating officer Ben Kensell apologised to the fans and former Carrow Road pair Eadie, and ex-Hibs stiker Holt, adding: “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.
“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.
“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.”