Norwich City announce 'mutual termination' of controversial BK8 sponsorship deal after fan backlash

Norwich City have announced that their controversial sponsorship deal with Asian betting firm BK8 has been scrapped.

In a statement, Norwich described the parting of ways as a "mutual termination" and said that both the club and BK8 had decided to "immediately end the partnership" having taken on board feedback from supporters.

News of the deal with BK8, which was revealed on Monday, prompted a huge backlash among fans after pictures emerged of scantily clad women on the company's Instagram page.

  • Norwich fans Sarah Greaves and Cat Prior-Holt give their reaction to the news

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

Despite BK8 saying in a statement on Monday that their marketing techniques were "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.

BK8's advertising techniques have been widely condemned by fans. Credit: BK8/Youtube

Many Canaries supporters decided to write to the club to make their feelings known, while others vowed to boycott buying the kit if BK8 remained the sponsors.

Norwich have now apologised for the whole episode and have admitted that "we got it wrong."

“We have worked hard to build trust and engagement through our countless initiatives with our supporters and partners. We place huge value on our open and honest relationships with our community and supporters," Norwich City’s chief operating officer, Ben Kensell, said.

“As a self-financed club there is always a fine balance between generating the revenue levels required to help maintain that model, whilst working within our visions and values.

“On this occasion, we made an error of judgement. Our standards were not at the levels we demand of our football club."

Norwich have also said sorry to club legends Darren Eadie and Grant Holt who featured in a video released on Monday unveiling the deal.

Norwich's agreement with BK8 has now been terminated. Credit: Matthew Usher, Norwich City FC

“We can now only apologise to our supporters and former players, Grant Holt and Darren Eadie, who were across the BK8 promotional launch campaign, for any offence caused.

“We remain highly committed to diversity and equality across our football club and its community. We want to continue to embed a highly inclusive culture across the club, together with an accessible and welcoming environment free of demeaning and discriminatory behaviours.”

The Canaries say that a replacement shirt sponsor will be announced soon.

The club also confirmed to ITV News Anglia that they won't face any financial penalty for tearing up the contract.

  • Watch an extended interview with football finance expert Kieran Maguire

Football finance expert Kieran Maguire says so-called "good faith" clauses are commonplace in deals between clubs and sponsors.

"Contracts between football clubs and all of their partners will have what is regarded as a 'good faith' clause embedded into them," he said.

"That will allow one of the parties to withdraw from the contract if the other one has behaved inappropriately. So, since it has come to light that BK8 has been using the sexualisation of young women to promote its products, I think that Norwich would have been perfectly entitled to walk away from the contract immediately."

  • Norwich's statement in full

Norwich City's Carrow Road stadium. Credit: PA

Norwich City can announce the mutual termination of the club’s commercial partnership with BK8.

The club and BK8 have taken on board feedback from its supporters and partners, and after continued discussions we have agreed to immediately end the partnership.

As a club, we’re proud of our place within the local community and our relationship withsupporters around the world. We have worked tirelessly for a considerable time buildingrelationships across a wide range of mediums and community projects.

Whilst we anticipated some negative responses to the announcement of the partnership with a betting company, the club understands the reaction to BK8, their affiliates and other similar brands’ ways of marketing, the values of which do not align with those of the football club.

On this occasion, we got it wrong. For that, and any offence caused, the club apologises.