Spinnaker sponsorship upsets Pompey fans
Plans to repaint Portsmouth‘s Spinnaker Tower as part of a sponsorship deal with Dubai-based Emirates Airlines have not gone down well with fans of the English city’s football club.
As part of a £3.5 million ($5.3 million) deal over five years with the city council, the plan is for the Spinnaker Tower to be repainted red and white as part of a naming rights agreement with Emirates.
The traditional home kit of Portsmouth, a club now controlled by its supporters after a series of financial collapses under several different foreign owners, consists of blue shirts, white shorts and red socks.
A petition protesting at the scheme gathered 5,000 signatures in under 24 hours.
Pompey fan Alex Judd, the petition organiser, said Saturday: “Portsmouth is a proud city, with a deep footballing heritage at its core.
“The recent announcement by Portsmouth City Council to allow Emirates to paint the Spinnaker Tower in the colours of the city’s fiercest rivals — red and white — flies in the face of the loyal values of the city.
“The very fact that the fans took ownership of the club, just two years ago, proves how the people of Portsmouth live and breathe football.
“To allow the colours of Southampton to stand tall on one of our city’s most prominent landmarks shows an incredible lack of empathy for the residents. It must be stopped.”
Emirates also sponsor Premier League giants Arsenal‘s home ground in north London as well as two of England’s major cricket venues — Manchester’s Old Trafford and Durham’s Chester-le-Street.
Southampton are an established Premier League side, having spent the bulk of the past 35 years in English football’s top flight.
Portsmouth were in the Premier League as recently as 2010, when they suffered the first of a series of relegations aided by points deductions for going into financial administration, and they now play in League Two — English football’s fourth-tier.
However, as Pompey fans often point out to Saints’ supporters, Portsmouth have twice been crowned champions of England — in 1948/49 and 1949/50 — and have twice won the FA Cup, with the second success coming as recently as 2008.
Southampton, by contrast, have never won the English title, while their lone FA Cup triumph came in 1976 when they beat Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley — thanks to a goal from Portsmouth-born Bobby Stokes.