Aviva pledge to stand by the Canaries

PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:16 10 September 2010

Sarah Hall

Norwich City's shirt sponsor Aviva today insisted they had no intention of pulling the plug on the sponsorship deal, but refused to say whether they would pay out less following the Canaries' relegation.

Norwich City's shirt sponsor Aviva today insisted they had no intention of pulling the plug on the sponsorship deal, but refused to say whether they would pay out less following the Canaries' relegation.

When Canaries chief executive Neil Doncaster was quizzed over the club's sponsorship at the fans' forum on Monday, he said the Aviva deal would continue, but there might be a reduction in the amount paid in League One.

Bosses at Aviva announced they were signing a three-year deal with the Canaries in April last year, replacing Flybe as the club's main sponsor, although the amount of money Aviva paid to become the club sponsor was not made public.

At the time the insurance giant was paving the way for the Norwich Union name to be dropped and the sponsorship was seen as showing the company did still want to support the city where so many of its workers have come from over the years.

Today, a spokeswoman for Aviva refused to comment on the implications of relegation in terms of the financial side of the deal, but said: “We have a three year deal and will be talking to the club about the impact which relegation will have. But we are in it for the good times and the bad, so we care certainly not going to be pulling out.”

As well as having the Aviva name displayed on the shirts, the sponsorship also included a new educational initiative linking football with money management skills for young people, renewed sponsorship of the Community Stand, funding of the club's Ability Counts initiative and continued involvement in Canaries for the Community.

The deal also led to the introduction of a new mascot for Norwich City, with the Aviva Lemur joining the likes of Captain Canary and Splat The Cat.

In the past Norwich Union had been criticised for failing to give financial backing to its local team and fans were even more incensed when it was revealed that it invested £20m in arch rivals Ipswich Town through Morley Fund Management - a company owned by Aviva.

With debts of £19m, a wage bill of around £7m, a vastly reduced income from TV money from what would have been £2.9m to just £440,000, whoever takes the managerial seat at Carrow Road will not have millions to spend to rebuild the squad.

While attendances at Carrow Road are likely to drop because some of the League One teams do not have command the same sort of travelling support as many Championship clubs, it remains to be seen whether casual fans will stay away in their droves.

But 18,000 season tickets have already been sold, demonstrating once again the remarkable loyalty of Norwich City supporters - a loyalty which has been sorely tested this season.

The club is also facing a pay-out of potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds to those supporters who snapped up season tickets at an early stage and are now entitled to a rebate.

Some supporters say they would be prepared for the club to keep that cash to help fund the young players who will represent the Canaries in years to come and have set up a Facebook site called Give City A Waive, calling on season ticket holders to not claim back their cash.

Do you think Aviva should lower the amount it pays Norwich City now the club are in League One? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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