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Sponsors miss out on Irish bargain
Richard Sydenham | April 13, 2007 14:45 IST
In a matter of four weeks, backing the Irish team has become a much more expensive venture.
"It would have been nice if a major company had that leap of faith in us before we came out and boy would they have reaped the benefit if they had taken the chance," team manager Roy Torrens told Reuters.
"If somebody would have come in with as little as 30,000 pounds ($59,270) they could have had a great deal more television exposure than was first expected. If they come along with 30,000 pounds now they might be shown the door!"
Ireland, who play world champions Australia on Friday, were unable to endorse regular sponsor Bank of Ireland because their business clashed with an official tournament sponsor. They approached other backers instead but were rebuffed.
But after the World Cup debutants qualified for the Super Eights against expectation, the team of mostly amateur sportsmen have suddenly become popular.
Their exploits in the Caribbean, which included a shock victory over 1992 champions Pakistan, have boosted the profile of cricket in a country where it is a minority sport.
Had a sponsor taken the plunge just a few weeks ago, when the hard-up Irish Cricket Union were desperate for every cent, the added marketing value would have proven a shrewd investment.
Although the Irish now find themselves in the spotlight, there is no branding to be seen as World Cup regulations stipulate that teams must lodge their sponsors prior to the tournament.
Whereas Australia captain Ricky Ponting appears on televised media conferences with 'Fly Emirates' on his cap and shirt, Ireland skipper Trent Johnston's cap has merely the national emblem -- a shamrock.
"Before the World Cup we couldn't get any company to sponsor the front arm on our shirt for what we and most people thought would be three games," Torrens said. "It's now nine games. What price would companies have paid for that?"
Cricket Australia's overseas sponsor is normally a money exchange company but that company clashed with another tournament backer. Unlike Ireland, the Australians' status in world cricket meant replacements sponsors were queuing up.
The publicity and interest that the Irish team has generated through their performances has at least sparked a few offers for the new season.
"No one back home had that faith in us and what we're finding now is that small sponsorships are being offered. I'm sure our chief executive will find it much less difficult to find sponsorship now," said Torrens.
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