Matt Harris of Perble, details the importance of Paddy Power’s lead sponsorship of CONIFA 2018, as all industry operators prepare for a summer of World Cup Russia 2018 trading. Betting content specialist Harris, details why Paddy Power is right to pursue and tell a different narrative of football.
The sponsorship arrangement between Paddy Power and the organisers of the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup would, initially, seem to be a perfect fit when we consider the nature of the two parties involved.
The tournament, taking place across London from May 31, will be largely ignored by the wider football community while others who are aware of its existence will see it, at best, as a minor curtain raiser to Russia 2018.
In short, it’s a novelty for some, while over in the other camp we have the Kings of Novelty Betting: An operator that currently has 500/1 on Jeremy Clarkson to become the next Arsenal manager while, among the Donald Trump specials, punters could previously obtain odds on who, between the US and North Korea had the biggest nuclear button.
All Joking Aside
Paddy Power can divide opinion but there is no lack of entertainment via TV, Social Media and these novelty betting outlets but in a case such as this, it’s easy, and somewhat unfortunate, to mask the fact that this is a very important deal and one where the benefits stand to filter all the way down to grassroots football in the UK.
We’ll work through the beneficiaries as we move on but firstly, it’s important to understand who CONIFA are along with the role that they play.
Providing a Platform
The Confederation of Independent Football Associations – CONIFA for short – was set up in 2013 to bring together national football organisations that were, for one reason or another, are not recognised and not affiliated to FIFA. Included in their ranks are Tibet, Tuvalu, Monaco, Greenland and Northern Cyprus among an overall list of 48 members as of May 2018.
While each member has already established its own team, CONIFA brings the squads together in competitive, meaningful games and the pinnacle is their version of the World Cup which comes to England in 2018. The first tournament was held in Sweden in 2014 although the official hosts were Sapmi, more commonly known to us all as Lapland.
From there it was on to Abkhazia in 2016 and this year, football is coming home to England, although the official hosts are Barawa, a port town in Somalia. While Gareth Southgate’s squad will be focusing elsewhere this summer, local supporters could always look to cheer on Ellan Vannin – the Isle of Man to you or I.
It’s a little confusing but the importance of the CONIFA World Cup to those taking part can’t be understated. Naturally, financial backing is vital to success and the organisation has welcomed Paddy Power’s involvement.
A ConIFA spokesperson said: “We were delighted to have Paddy Power’s support for this tournament. Our recent tournaments have had financial backing from the relevant local governments – Northern Cyprus 2017, Abkhazia 2016. For obvious reasons we were unable to get such backing in the United Kingdom, so without Paddy Power’s support the 2018 CONIFA Paddy Power World Football Cup would not be coming to London.
“Paddy Power’s support means we can bring the World Football Cup to some fantastic stadiums around the capital city of football’s spiritual home. Paddy Power have also visited several of our member football associations to film mini-documentaries in the build-up to the tournament, and it has been fantastic to have this engagement and content.”
Among the venues set to host the 2018 CONIFA World Cup is the 2,500 capacity Queen Elizabeth II Stadium in Enfield North London. The ground will hold a number of group games and will also have the honour of hosting the final itself on the ninth of June.
The regular occupants are Enfield Town FC, who finished in 17th place in the Bostik League Premier. The club has welcomed the arrival of the World Cup and have highlighted the benefits of hosting such a tournament.
Chairman Paul Reed explains: “I am delighted that the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium has been chosen to host some CONIFA World Cup matches this year, including the final. This will be an exciting venture for the club, not just from a financial perspective but also in terms of spreading the word about our club and what it has to offer for the local community. It should be a fantastic event and we hope that a number of people will enjoy the facilities and matchday experience the club has to offer and return to watch some Enfield Town matches in the near future.
Mr Reed went on to confirm that the club’s members had expressed the view that they would like to see club income divided between first team playing budget, investment in the pitch and the provision of expanded social facilities.
“It’s a balancing act which I and Board colleagues aim to get right each season. All income at a club like ours is precious and needs to be spent wisely. This tournament is one of many income streams the club is focusing on and the signs are good. For group games hundreds of tickets have been sold already and for the Final we are expecting to break the ground attendance record, which currently stands at around 1,000”.
If we move one rung further down the league ladder we find Haringey Borough who made the play offs of the Bostik North this season. They play in White Hart Lane – not at the newly-refurbished ground that will welcome back Tottenham Hotspur next season, but at the nearby 2,500 capacity Coles Park Stadium.
Haringey Secretary John Bacon told us that the club was pleased with the bookings and that revenue would go towards the club’s general expenses. As we reach this level of English football, clubs may have to spend many thousands of pounds in stadium improvements in order to keep their divisional status while further down, many grassroots teams are struggling just to survive.
At the end of another Premier League season, millions of pounds are being split between clubs, many of whom will have a busy summer attracting lucrative sponsorship and betting partner arrangements while at the same time, your local side may be arranging a quiz night or a beer festival just to keep ahead of expenses.
Not a Time to Bury Good News
Paddy Power’s involvement at this level of the game is gratefully received, along with the input of Betting.net and BigFreeBet.com who were specifically involved in non-league football during 2017/18.
When making the initial announcement back in March, Paddy even made reference to the Dalai Lama. As an operator who had previously given us odds on Bono and Father Dougal McGuire – a fictional character from Father Ted – to become the next Pope, they are no strangers to a spiritual focus but this was another side comment that may have led us away from the importance of this sponsorship.
As we’ve seen, the contract between Paddy Power and CONIFA not only benefits the organisers of their 2018 Football World Cup, it also trickles down to the stage where it will bring in vital funds for the hosting clubs around London, those who find themselves several rungs down the FA ladder and in need of finance for maintenance and other crucial areas of their operation.
At a time when gambling sponsorship in sport continues to receive mixed coverage outside of our own industry press, we should all recognise the wider reaches of this contract while perhaps shouting a little louder in terms of its overall worth.
Matt Harris – Co-Founder – Perble
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