Deals make a winning strikeforce

Norwich City is used to receiving staunch support from the terraces, but it can also count on strong financial backing from a raft of partners offering so-called affinity deals to its fans.

Norwich City is used to receiving staunch support from the terraces, but it can also count on strong financial backing from a raft of partners offering so-called affinity deals to its fans.

The club has just launched Canary Home and Motor Insurance in conjunction with Norwich and Peterborough Building Society - the latest in an ever-expanding portfolio designed to benefit both supporters and the club.

Andrew Cullen, director of sales and marketing, said the importance of such tie-ups had grown over recent years, with the club receiving about £500,000 a year from its brand affinity partnerships and the income from such ventures now making up something like 20pc of the club's sponsorship income.

“It reflects the way the sponsorship market has evolved,” he said.

“We dipped our toe in the water with the launch of the Canary Account, and that now has more than 10,000 account holders with more than £30m in their accounts.”

That scheme has been particularly successful, with N&P giving nearly £2.4m to the club since the account's inception, based on 1pc of the average balance being handed over annually.

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But the whole concept of affinity partnerships has been expanded substantially over the past decade, and that in turn has led to the diversification of income from sponsors.

As well as the new insurance offering, the portfolio of affinity products at Carrow Road now includes the Canary Account and Canary Financial Advice Service (both also with N&P), Travel Norwich City, Npower Canary Energy, RAC breakdown cover, the Canary Mastercard (run in partnership with MBNA) and Canary Corporate Insurances (a tie-up with Hugh J Boswell).

And whereas most clubs have one key sponsor - the shirt sponsor - the Canaries are now less reliant on any one corporate relationship.

Such affinity products carry inherent risks, however. If a Canaries-branded product proves to be of poor quality, it will reflect as much on the club as on the provider.

“We only deal with credible partners otherwise it could bring the whole thing crashing down, and the products we offer must be good for the fans,” said Mr Cullen. “We also insist that our partners show us commitment. We are only interested in long-term partnership, perhaps over a minimum of three years.”

And while an affinity deal means that the brand might not get the exposure it would perhaps receive through a more conventional arrangement, it seems to drive sales and taps into a community where there is a ready-made database and a commitment to brand loyalty.

t TIE-UP WILL INSURE CLUB GETS FANS' SUPPORT

The Canaries have announced another affinity partnership with Norwich and Peterborough Building Society - this time offering home and motor insurance to supporters.

The club will receive £15 for each new household or motor insurance policy taken out through Norwich and Peterborough Insurance Brokers (NPIB).

N&P's relationship with Norwich City includes shirt sponsorship between 1992 and 1996, stand sponsorship since 1996 and the Canary Account since 1997.

April saw the launch of the Canary Financial Advice Service, which offers independent financial advice. The latest announcement means there are now three affinity partnerships between the club and the building society. “We're really pleased to be offering a third affinity deal to Canaries fans,” said NPIB business development manager Stuart Avery.

“N&P has a long-standing relationship with the club and anything we can do to help with extra revenue can only be a good thing.”

Norwich City brand marketing manager Will Hoy added: “This is another way for Norwich fans to get a great deal whilst financially supporting the football club.

“N&P has been a major player with the club for a number of years and this further extends this cherished relationship.”

t For more information, call 0845 122 2232 or visit www.npbs.co.uk/canaries