The Club officially launched NEFirst Credit Union as its new main sponsor last Saturday.
The Credit Union invited figures from around the region to attend the launch, including the Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, who was among those who attended the event to show his support for the sponsorship.
NEFirst Credit Union, who will be the club’s main sponsor for the 2017/18 season, provide access to straightforward, secure savings accounts and affordable loans and provide an alternative to the higher-cost lenders that feature on the shirts of several professional clubs.
Peter Mackie, Chair of NEFirst, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring Bishop Auckland Football Club and it was great to be able to launch the partnership publicly on Saturday.
“As a credit union, we are member focussed and community based and this agreement will allow us engage with more people in the area.
“We are committed to offering an alternative to high-cost or illegal lenders and hopefully through the awareness this deal raises, more people will be able to benefit from the products we offer.
“And with several professional clubs promoting high-cost lenders, it is great to have the opportunity to showcase the other, lower cost options people have available to them.”
One of the driving forces behind the deal was the opportunity for the two organisations that share the same core values to collaborate. Both organisations are community focussed and this is something that has brought them together. NEFirst is a not for profit organisation owned and run by its members.
The Club’s Commercial Director Dave Mills is very enthusiastic about the deal and said: “This partnership is the flagship and most prestigious sponsorship, advertising and marketing product at Bishop Auckland Football Club.
“It provides NEFirst Credit Union the opportunity to become the club’s major commercial partner and prominently stand side by side with the football club, in all aspects of its business, throughout the period of the agreement.
“The partnership is about developing strong relationships, enhancing the brand of each partner and engaging with the local community. This forward-thinking partnership is built between the two organisations, who each take pride in performance and innovation, with an unwavering culture of integrity and success. I’m sure this public launch will be very well received by everyone associated with the football club.”
NEFirst Credit Union covers the whole of the North East, including County Durham, Northumberland and all of the boroughs that make up Tyne and Wear (Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside). Anyone who lives or works in this area is eligible to join.
NEFirst has four offices at Gateshead, Durham, Birtley and North Shields. It also has 45 Local Service Points across the region where people can sign up to become members, deposit money into their accounts, apply for loans and take out money from their savings.
NEFirst is committed to stamping out loan sharks. The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) – a national team that investigate and prosecute loan sharks – has contributed £5,000 of proceeds of crime money to use towards this deal, that helps raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks to local residents and football fans. The team will share sponsorship with the Credit U nion, as they try to get fans to turn away from loan sharks and start saving and borrowing with the credit union instead. As well as sponsorship, IMLT will have information in match programmes, announcements at games, and will work with the club on social media campaigns throughout the season.
This funding has come from proceeds of crime money; cash confiscated from convicted loan sharks, following successful prosecutions. A loan shark is someone who lends money without the correct authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We are pleased to be working with Bishop Auckland FC to raise awareness of loan sharks to local residents and football fans.
“The football club have agreed to promote our stop loan sharks message and hotline number on their football kit and pitch banners.
“Loan sharks are criminals who prey on vulnerable individuals and exploit borrowers for personal financial gain. These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are often forced to pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford.
“If you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, please contact the team on 0300 555 2222 or visit the website www.stoploansharks.uk. We will accept information anonymously or in confidence.”
For more information about NEFirst visit www.nefirstcu.co.uk.