Friday, January 24, 2014

24 January 1976 - Give It Time, It'll Catch On

On 24 January 1976, Kettering Town introduced shirt sponsorship to British football, with a mixed reception.

Shirt sponsorship originated with Uruguayan side PeƱarol in the mid-1950s, expanding to France in the 1960s and Germany in the early 1970s. But no senior team in the UK tried it until Kettering's Southern Premier League match against Bath City. The idea came from Kettering Town player-manager (and chief executive) Derek Dougan, who had joined the club the previous year. He arranged a deal for local firm Kettering Tyres to sponsor their shirts in return for a four-figure deal, with their name in large letters across the front.

When the FA learned of the deal, they ordered the club to remove the sponsor. Dougan attempted to work around the order by shortening the sponsor to "Kettering T" and claiming that it stood for Kettering Town. The FA were unconvinced and issued another removal order, this time with the threat of a £1,000 fine for non-compliance.

By the following year, however, the FA capitulated and allowed shirt sponsorship across the board, with Hibernian becoming the first top-flight team in the UK to adopt the practice.

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