By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
KAIZER Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will be the strongest sides in the Absa Premiership come next season after Vodacom re-affirmed their support for both clubs with five year extension to their current relationship.
Although the three parties did not confirmed the exact figures in terms of the money involved, it is believed that the two clubs are set to scored R1 billion each from this game-changing deal, which is the longest running in South African football history, commences on June 1 and further cements a partnership that began in 1998 and has been renewed on four subsequent occasions. During the intervening years, the mutually beneficent relationship has played a significant role in elevating all three institutions to elite status.
“It is indeed a pleasure to announce the addition of a further five years to our partnership. And, as a reflection of our passion for the game and unwavering support for the fans, I am delighted to announce that this momentous deal will change the nature of sports sponsorship in South Africa” said Sipho Maseko, Managing Director Vodacom South Africa and Vodacom Group Chief Operating Officer, before elaborating, “We are no longer simply sponsoring a logo on a shirt – we are moving it up to the next level and changing the game by custom-creating a unique range of products and services exclusively for Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs that will not only benefit the supporters but the clubs themselves, in their race to maintain brand leadership.
“The synergy between the unifying abilities of both football and telecommunications has been a game-changer,” he added. “It has completely revolutionised the football experience and the relationship between fan and club, bringing them closer together than ever before. Over the course of our partnership, the combined influence of these powerful brands has brought about game-changing advances to the game that have seen Chiefs and Pirates leave the competition behind both on and off the field, while Vodacom, with a subscribership of 33 million, is firmly established as the telecommunications powerhouse in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Enzo Scarcella, Vodacom’s acting Chief Commercial Officer elaborated further, “When one looks at the heritage of these two great clubs, built out of a long track record of accomplishments, their reach extends to millions across the country. Soccer is overwhelmingly the biggest sport in South Africa and Vodacom has always played an active role in supporting the game, keeping abreast of the latest technical innovations to create platforms for fans to engage with their favourite team on a daily basis.”
Since the inception of the partnership, the bar has been raised on a number of game-changing occasions. The development and revitalization of the Vodacom Challenge was able to afford both the teams the opportunity to play against some of the finest African and European clubs, including Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and newly crowned English Premier League champions, Manchester City. It offered an equally original experience to the supporters too, who were able to see their heroes pit their talents against world-class opposition. Then, in order to bring even more South Africans together it was decided to stage the Challenge at various venues around the country to connect people’s passion for the game and these great teams even further through innovative products and offers from Vodacom as a result of this sponsorship. As a further undertaking of assurance to supporters Vodacom have once again committed to presenting the Vodacom Challenge in 2012, with the teams, dates and venues to be announced in due course.
“We have worked together for many years with the common goal of uniting people and the new agreement widens the scope even further for Vodacom, Pirates and Chiefs to bring fans closer to their passion,” Scarcella said.
Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will be connecting customers by bringing Vodacom’s products and services closer to them. Supporters stand to reap the benefits of the improved contract directly when they attend the enhanced promotional events. In keeping with Vodacom’s ‘Power to you’ pledge, fans will be thrilled to enjoy closer encounters with their favourite players at various pre-match gatherings, where an increased range of official club merchandise, as well as a wide range of Vodacom products and services, including new branded starter packs will be available for sale to the general public.
Since 1998, Chiefs and Pirates have won a combined total of 21 major trophies, including five Premier Soccer League titles, while Vodacom has firmly established itself as the leaders at the forefront of the South African telecommunications industry. Not only have these two giants of South African football raked in the silverware over the period but they have also made exponential strides with regard to growing their fan bases and cultivating appreciation for their respective brands.
Chairman of Kaizer Chiefs, Kaizer Motaung expressed his admiration for the contribution made by Vodacom to his Club’s success: “We are grateful to have a partner of the calibre of Vodacom at our side,” he said. “Without their involvement over the past 14 years we would never have reached the heights we have, both on the field of play as well as with regard to the close relationship we enjoy with our loyal fan base.”
Orlando Pirates’ Chairman, Dr. Irvin Khoza espoused similar sentiments saying, “The influence of Vodacom goes deeper than simply furnishing funds to our club. Since the start of our partnership, we have learned many things together along the way about professionalism, efficiency and the importance of always striving to maintain the highest standards possible. I am very happy to be able to continue this association, and look forward to even more joint success in the future.”
Chiefs has since enlisted the services of former Bafana Bafana coach, Stuart Baxter as their head coach and the Siboniso Gaxa to their camp and they are expected to parade more new signees in due course.