Norwich City fans accuse club of 'selling soul' over controversial BK8 sponsorship deal

  • Watch a full report from ITV News Anglia's Rob Setchell.

Norwich City fans have accused the club of "selling its soul" after a controversial sponsorship deal was struck with an Asian betting firm.

News of the agreement with BK8 prompted a huge backlash among supporters after pictures emerged of scantily clad women on the company's Instagram page.

Similar sexualised content could also be found on Youtube, some of which was removed after being highlighted by angry fans.

In response to the deal, the Canaries Trust supporters group put out a statement saying that such images "go against the values of the club" and described the whole episode as "not acceptable."

Norwich have since vowed to "review their due diligence process", but many female fans say the damage has already been done.

  • ITV News Anglia's Donovan Blake spoke to Sarah Greaves, Women in Football Ambassador for The Canaries Trust. 

"I think what the club forgot in this instance was how they can be associated with something that doesn't stand for their values and that their fans would be upset and angry by. They just didn't maybe take enough time or think about what that association does," Sarah Greaves from the Canaries Trust told ITV News Anglia.

Norwich cut short their existing agreement with another Asian betting firm, Dafabet, to strike a deal with BK8.

It means they will be sponsored by a betting company for a fifth consecutive season.

Many supporters have vowed to not buy the shirt if the club choose to honour their agreement with BK8, and fan Di Cunnigham believes the commercial team at Carrow Road should have put the club's values before any financial incentives.

Norwich City's new sponsorship deal with BK8 Credit: Matthew Usher, Norwich City FC

"I feel incredibly let down," she said.

"I love the vibe of the club, it's just a club with such brilliant values and I just feel those have been absolutely neglected. I know it costs money to thrive in the Premier League but if this is how we have to access those's kind of like we're selling our soul."

In a statement released by Norwich City on behalf of BK8 on Monday evening, the company apologised for its advertising techniques.

"Following concerns and issues raised by Norwich City Football Club and its supporters following our announcement, BK8 would like to wholeheartedly apologise for any offence caused by our historical marketing.

"We accept that this form of marketing isn’t befitting of a Premier League partnership. We have immediately removed all marketing material of this nature and will conduct a review of our marketing strategy moving forward.."

However, despite BK8 claiming that the marketing in question was purely "historical", a video advertising Euro 2020 containing sexualised images of young women could be found on Youtube as recently as Tuesday morning, before being promptly taken down just a few hours later.

A video posted on Youtube on Tuesday morning has since been taken down. Credit: BK8/Youtube

Senior figures were understood to have held crisis talks on Tuesday to discuss the club's next move, but with any break of contract likely to costs millions of pounds, scrapping the deal altogether would be a complex, and enormously costly, process.

The sponsorship saga is another element to what has already been a turbulent start to the summer for Norwich, with the club also announcing on Monday that star player Emi Buendia will join Aston Villa later this week in a club record move.