Non-league Blyth Spartans in bizarre North Korea sponsorship link-up
The move has led to some bafflement among fans.
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.
For those that like to travel to far flung places our new @Blyth_Spartans advertiser @Visit_DPRK would love to hear from you! Thanks to @Visit_DPRK for your support and if anyone there needs a team to follow @Blyth_Spartans isn't be a bad choice 👍 pic.twitter.com/iP86GI08Q8— Mark Scott (@BSAFCCommercial) December 27, 2018
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.
Gotta love a dictatorship for your holibobs!— Edward (@edforever) December 27, 2018
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.”