Lions now flush as new sponsors come on board

2014-12-11 00:00

THE Golden Lions’ success in 2014 has finally brought them on a par with their more cash-flush neighbours, as they are set to announce a partnership with global airline Emirates and two other sponsors today.

The Lions were without a sponsor for the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby series and after spending a year in the wilderness, Johan Ackermann’s men have fought their way out of a precarious position where they were struggling both in terms of playing personnel and money, but they are now in a position where they can start competing equally with other Super Rugby sides.

Lions president Kevin de Klerk and CEO Rudolf Straeuli will announce the deal with Emirates to be the chief sponsor for the next five years in an agreement that also includes the naming rights to Ellis Park Stadium.

Emirates’ corporate colours are red and white and thus a perfect fit for the Lions as they join a massive sponsorship family for the airline, which also sponsors the ICC umpires, English premiership club Arsenal, World Rugby’s referees association and is one of the global sponsors for the Rugby World Cup next year. Emirates is also a Formula One partner and sponsors no fewer than 15 international golfing tournaments.

The five-year sponsorship is an unusual one, as the norm is three years for most sponsors.

The Lions will also announce today that Chinese cellphone company ­Huawei is to become another major sponsor of the team. Huawei is ­well-known for its mobile and 3G ­devices and is one of the fastest ­growing Chinese companies.

A third sponsor, which will have a lesser role, will also be named today, with speculation that one of the Lions’ current sponsors in the Currie Cup could extend its role into Super Rugby. The Lions have decided to use the money within their current squad and make limited acquisitions where necessary.

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