THE Cronulla Sharks have ended months of off-season uncertainty by signing a multi-million dollar major sponsor just 48 hours before launching their premiership defence.
Opal Solar will be plastered across the front of the black, white and blue jersey when they run out for the season-launch clash with the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday night at Shark Park.
The delay in finding a sponsor had cost the club tens of thousands of dollar in pre-season merchandise sales while fans wait to purchase the official 50-year jersey with the naming rights sponsor.
“We’ve been in the market to find the right partner, not just any partner,” said CEO Lyall Gorman.
“Opal Solar have got a great brand around environmental responsibility which aligns with a lot of the principals our club has in regards to community involvement.
“They’ve recognised we’re the premiers and a brand on the rise. It’s a strong statement in our brand and reinforces where this club is heading.”
Opal Solar is already involved in the NRL as a sponsor on the back of the Canterbury Bulldogs jersey.
Bulldogs CEO Raelene Castle says there is not a problem with the double up.
“We are pleased for both parties,” Castle said, “Opal see out their contract and stay on our jersey for 2017. They were looking for a bigger opportunity which wasn’t available with us.”
Gorman too sees no drama with the same sponsor at two clubs.
“The fact they are also involved with the Bulldogs just shows their passion and love for the game,” he said, “We’re delighted to have such a great company on board.
“A couple of years ago we made a commitment about changing where our club was heading. We’ve shown on and off the field a continual rise in delivery. The corporates have confidence in us.”
The deal is believed to be worth around the $1 million-a-season mark, one of the most lucrative in the game. It couldn’t arrive at a better time for the Sharks, who despite winning the premiership, reported a $600,000 loss on heir 2016 campaign.
“No one gets any satisfaction out of not having a naming rights sponsor on their jersey so this is a boost for players, members, fans and everyone associated with the club.”