Wayne Rooney signing nets Derby record 32Red sponsorship deal
Derby announced earlier this week they had signed England’s record goalscorer on an 18-month player-coach deal. Though it has not been confirmed how much of Rooney’s wages 32Red will pay, it was also revealed the 33-year-old will wear number 32 for Derby, further fuelling the notion that the deal is primarily serving as a commercial opportunity for 32Red.
Mel Morris, the club’s owner and Executive Chairman, was quick to acknowledge the commercial interest Rooney had brought the Championship team.
“Obviously, the commercial opportunities this creates are widespread and significant," Morris said. “On the back of Wayne joining the club, we have just been offered a record-breaking sponsorship deal with our principal shirt sponsor, 32Red.”
The deal has attracted criticism, with accusations it makes a mockery of financial fair play (FFP) rules by essentially allowing bookmakers to directly fund player transfers. Rooney will reportedly earn around five times the average wage in the English second-tier.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Richard Caborn, the former government minister who was a key figure in the 2005 Gambling Act, said: "It's not very clever this – it all seems a bit crass.
"Wayne Rooney, who has got kids himself, should perhaps know this is not the brightest. The gambling companies need to be doing themselves favours at the moment, but this is not going to go down well with football authorities or the government."
With the 2019/20 English Football League (EFL) season underway, betting companies agreed to stop advertising during live games after concerns with how prevalent they were. Yet 17 out of 24 club shirts in the Championship feature a betting firm, with more than half also emblazoned on the front of jerseys in the Premier League.
Commenting on the Rooney deal, Morris added: “We are keen to leverage Wayne’s involvement and the support of 32Red with our community initiatives, expanding the work such as the Team Talk mental health programme which is supported by our Community Trust and 32Red.
"These are key initiatives to us as a club and demonstrate the benefits of commercial initiatives that are truly aligned to the objectives of all parties, club fanbase and community."
Rooney will officially join up with Derby in January 2020 after two seasons with Major League Soccer (MLS) club DC United.
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