Monday 16 September 2019

Non-league Blyth Spartans in bizarre North Korea sponsorship link-up

The move has led to some bafflement among fans.

(Mike Egerton/PA)
(Mike Egerton/PA)

By Alistair Mason, Press Association

When you think of non-league football sponsors, you probably imagine local car dealerships, estate agents or law firms.

So the new link-up from Northumberland-based National League North side Blyth Spartans has certainly raised a few eyebrows.

That’s because a new advertising board at Spartans’ Croft Park ground bears the name of Visit North Korea, an organisation that sells travel packages to the secretive east Asian country.

A statement on the Visit North Korea website read: “Visit North Korea is pleased to announce a sponsorship deal with English football club Blyth Spartans FC.

“The club, based in Northumbria, near Newcastle Upon Tyne, now hosts a banner for the company in their stadium, known as Croft Park.”

While the club’s commercial director Mark Scott confirmed the link-up in the official programme for their Boxing Day game against Spennymoor Town, he said the venture did not amount to an endorsement of Kim Jong Un.

Scott told the Chronicle: “Who am I to judge?

“The guy running this is going over to visit the country, not shake hands with Kim Jong Un, so we have no problem with it.”

The move was met with some scepticism on social media.

One supporter, Twitter user John Kirkup, said: “You’d struggle to get anyone to visit Ashington in here never mind PRNK.”

But if the aims of the link-up are met, that outlook may change.

Visit North Korea said it was “proud to be able to help support the great English game at a local level and secure publicity for clubs in the north of England.

“In the process, by promoting our programs we aim to help people broaden their horizons and think differently about the world.”

PA Media

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