Chesterfield sponsor won’t renew due to ‘frustrations’ with off-field issues, Spireites in talks with potential replacement

Chesterfield vs Crewe - ProAct stadium - Pic By James Williamson
Chesterfield vs Crewe - ProAct stadium - Pic By James Williamson

One of Chesterfield FC’s main sponsors will not be renewing their deal due to ‘frustrations’ with the club’s on and off-field issues.

GF Tomlinson, who sponsor the big screen at the Proact and the club’s kit, were also disappointed by the lack of ‘reciprocal opportunities’ they felt would come from the relationship.

The three-year shirt sponsorship deal was heralded in 2016 as the most lucrative in the club’s history, but GF Tomlinson will not be taking up the option to renew for a further three years.

Club director Ashley Carson lamented the end of the relationship but said negotiations are already underway with a potential new sponsor.

GF Tomlinson general manager Andrew Hughes told the Derbyshire Times they had expressed their feelings to the club in recent weeks.

“We’ve been avid supporters of the football club over the last three years, investing a fair bit of money into the football club,” he said.

“But certainly over the last year and a half there have been problems within the football club which haven’t shed the club in the light it needed to be shed.

“I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the people doing the work in the club.

“We haven’t been able to come to any reciprocal agreements with regards to the owners and the senior management within the club.

“I made the conscious decision a couple of weeks ago that we would speak to Chesterfield, tell them our frustrations and I’ll be honest with you, they weren’t very forthcoming with regards to our frustrations.

“We decided enough was enough, really.”

Mr Hughes said business opportunities that were spoken about at the outset of the sponsorship deal have not come to fruition.

“When we took on the role of sponsoring the club they were a club that had synergy with us, we’ve been going 100 years plus, we were going to do some business together,” he said.

“We were going to look at some developments within the club, they were telling us they wanted to spend some money and develop the club, put some different opportunities in the car park, develop some of the offices into boxes and talking to us about doing some of that work for them.

“Obviously the owner of the business is Dave Allen, he owns casinos, he’s not been forthcoming to us with any reciprocal opportunity.”

The Spireites were a League One club when GF Tomlinson first got involved at the Proact by sponsoring the big screen.

Now, they’re near the bottom of the National League.

Their successive relegations, and well documented problems off the field, became a concern for the sponsor.

“Over the last three years there has been stuff that came from the football club which hasn’t covered it in glory.

“I’m not talking about just the relegations, stuff that’s happened behind the scenes, the incident with the fraudulent raffle ticket, with the academy, a senior management’s family betting on stuff.

“Each time this is portrayed to the press, they’ve got a Tomlinson shirt on.

“It’s been a hard three years for us with the club, but we’ve enjoyed sponsoring the club for the heart of what is in it, the day to day staff that actually run the club itself, the people on the ground. They’ve been fantastic to us.

“From our point of view it’s a real shame we’re parting ways.”

Mr Carson confirmed that GF Tomlinson had voiced their frustrations over the reciprocal business opportunities they sought, but pointed out that any dealings with Dave Allen’s A&S Leisure firm was a matter between those two companies.

“A&S Leisure and the running of CFC are not linked in anyway and we have no control or influence over their business,” he said.

“I am aware that they quoted for A&S Leisure’s new conference and banqueting development, but I am not aware of the detail other than that their quote was higher than the successful contractor.”

As for Chesterfield FC’s off-field problems in recent years, Mr Carson said GF Tomlinson did not make their concerns known to him.

But he did rue the loss of the Derbyshire firm as a sponsor.

“This has never been discussed or raised with anyone, the ‘raffle gate’ was over two years ago and until then Tomlinsons had a very close working relationship with Kevin Fitzgerald and were really gutted that he lost his job.

“I am personally very sorry to lose Tomlinsons as a sponsor and have always got on extremely well with Andy Hughes. We are now currently speaking to a potential new sponsor.”

Meanwhile, Hughes put to bed a rumour that GF Tomlinson had made an approach to purchase the club from owner Dave Allen.

“That’s not true,” he said.

“I was asked if Tomlinsons would like to become a shareholder in the club.

“We’re a construction company, we don’t deal with football, we know nothing about football.

“The only thing we know about football is that they’re a local club to us and they had good links with the community in Derbyshire.

“We wanted to sponsor and support that.”

Mr Carson was unaware of any offer of a shareholding.

“I am not aware of this, there are to my knowledge no shares for sale,” he said.

“Dave Allen and family control the club with 80 per cent, I own just over three per cent as the next largest shareholder.

“The rest of the five million shares are divided up amongst over 1,400 shareholders.”