News broke out during the week that Nigerian professional Football League club Abubakar Bukola Saraki Football Club (ABSFC) has secured a shirt sponsorship deal with one of the biggest sport kit makers "PUMA".
This only didn't come as a surprise but also a wake-up call for fellow professional league teams that it is not only the League Management Company (LMC) that has a role to play in branding the league but also the club management has its own indepth contributions to make.
Chairman of the club, Seni Saraki is of the view that the five-year partnership deal between PUMA, the Global Sports Lifestyle Brand, and his club has the potential of raising the profile of the nation’s football.
Mr Seni on Thursday at the unveiling ceremony of the PUMA/ABS jersey held at the Palms Mall, Ilorin, Kwara State said that the partnership involves the provision of kit for ABS FC and sponsorship of the club activities by PUMA.
It is also good to note that ABS is the first ever Nigeria topflight outfit to join any top sports brand or Puma's portfolio of club kit sponsorship.
He stated further saying, "It is the first of its kind partnership that represents the biggest football Kit sponsorship in the history of the Nigerian Football league aimed at growing and developing sports in Nigeria,” he said.
"The partnership with PUMA aligns with the club's vision for where the club is right now, and where they will be in the future. PUMA is known for delivering top level results whilst being innovative, and this is what ABS Ilorin symbolises," Saraki continued.
He also disclosed that ABS Ilorin is currently two years into the six-year plan set out by the current administration when the club was overhauled in 2015, saying that it is massively overachieving as it stands.
“Whilst we did not project to reach the NPFL till 2018 due to the well-documented difficulty of gaining promotion from the Nigeria National League, we have already done that a year earlier and we are more than holding our own in the elite league against clubs with substantially larger resources.
"The primary end-goal of the 6-year plan is to represent Nigeria at the CAF Champions League, and do so by winning the NPFL. We also aim to promote the ABS FC brand not just throughout Kwara State, but Nigeria as a whole, resulting in it being a commercially viable global brand.”
Puma representative at the unvieling event, Miss Aderemi Adefolabi, the Brand Manager PUMA, Persianas Retail Limited said that the partnership is in line with Puma’s commitment to the growth and development of sports in Nigeria.
“ABS FC has shown potentials of being a great club not just in Nigeria, but also in Africa and this has informed PUMA’s decision to provide the necessary support for it to achieve its potentials.
“All over the world, PUMA has shown strong commitment to the development of the round-leather game and its sponsorship cross across leading football clubs and national teams."
One key factor to take out of this deal is that, the management of ABSFC didnt sit back at Ilorin for Puma to come to them or decided to rely on the LMC financial package for clubs.
One way or the other the board or the marketing team did a very tough tasking job by securing the Puma deal, one worthy of commendation and emulation for other teams in the NPFL.
If this can be done appropriately by other teams I wouldn't be surprised to see the likes of Nike, Adidas and NB jostling for teams to partner with in the NPFL not also forgetting the financial packages that follows suit.