Norwich City pulls out of BK8 shirt sponsorship deal

Behind the scenes from the BK8 main sponsorship announcement at Norwich City, Carrow Road.

Norwich City FC has released a statement after the backlash against its new sponsor BK8. - Credit: Norwich City/Matthew Usher

Norwich City have ended their affiliation with controversial betting firm BK8 after days of intense backlash from supporters.

The club announced BK8 as their new shirt sponsor for the coming season on Monday, after cutting short the existing deal with another gambling firm, Dafabet.

But, soon after, the Canaries' and their new principal partner were under fire after photos and videos of scantily-clad young women from BK8 marketing material surfaced.

An Instagram account featuring the Asian betting firm's branding featured half-dressed women promoting the brand, while YouTube videos also emerged in which women carried out activities with a clear sexual innuendo.

Fans soon hit out at the club's "lack of research", with some describing it as "a PR disaster".

And, on Tuesday evening, the Canaries Trust, Along Come Norwich, Barclay End Norwich, Talk Norwich City and Zimbabwe Canaries issued a joint statement in opposition to the club's new sponsor.

This morning, City announced the "mutual termination" of the deal with BK8, adding a new shirt sponsor would be announced "in due course".

In its statement, the club apologised for any offence caused and admitted: "On this occasion, we got it wrong".

It added: "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."

Chief operating officer Ben Kensell said the club had made "an error of judgement", and apologised also to former players Grant Holt and Darren Eadie, who were involved in promotional material for City's partnership with BK8.

A spokesperson for the club confirmed no shirts had yet been printed with the BK8 logo, meaning no new kits had to go to waste.

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The club statement in full

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.

Norwich City’s chief operating officer, Ben Kensell, said: “We have worked hard to build trust and engagement through our countless initiatives with our supporters and partners. We place huge value on our open and honest relationships with our community and supporters.

"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."

A further update on a replacement shirt sponsor will follow in due course.