The South Australian brewer has just signed as major sponsor of North Adelaide Football Club, which effectively ends their long-standing lock out from the fridges of all but one SANFL club under the existing sponsorship deal between the league and Lion Nathan-owned West End Brewery.
Under the current six-year deal, due to expire at the end of this season, West End Brewery is the SANFL’s major sponsor. Eight of the nine SANFL clubs are part of the agreement under which they receive a “significant” sponsorship but in return are prohibited from serving rival breweries’ products at their clubs.
This is seen to be a major reason that two clubs have been negotiating with Coopers for a sponsorship deal independently of the League. North Adelaide have just signed a deal, Glenelg are believed to be in current negotiations. Coopers has a long-standing agreement with Norwood Football Club.
North Adelaide Football Club CEO Glenn Elliott said club was excited to be associated with Coopers and saw the club’s members as being major beneficiaries of the deal.
“The whole issue for us is that it’s a commercial decision for the football club that will be enjoyed by members and customers, and it certainly introduces a lot more flexibility for our customers and that’s really important,” Mr Elliot said.
“You need to be respectful of Lion Nathan’s sponsorship over a long period of years and they’ve been great supporters of sport in South Australia as well, but consumer choice is a major issue and there needs to be some flexibility in the market place for that and there needs to be some flexibility in sponsorships if possible.”
North Adelaide runs three venues, Prospect Oval, Northern Tavern and Grand North, a bistro and gaming facility. Mr Elliot said that under the Coopers agreement his club will still be able to offer rivals’ products.
“[An] exclusive tap arrangement applies here at Prospect Oval but there’s greater flexibility, as there should be, in the other venues,” Mr Elliot said.
While Coopers has the tap pourage right at the Prospect Oval, rival brewers’ products will still be available in bottled form there and at the club’s other other venues.
Coopers Chairman and Marketing Director, Glenn Cooper, said the deal was a win for Coopers, but also for the football club’s members.
“I believe people who pay for a membership fee for a football club should at least be able to have a choice of beer,” Mr Cooper said.
Mr Cooper said this had always been the principle under their longstanding agreement with Norwood, the one club not part of the SANFL agreement.
“At Norwood, while we have exclusivity on tap beer, you can at least get a Lion Nathan or Fosters product in packaged beer.”
“We take the view that if our beers are available and won’t sell, then there’s something that we’re doing wrong.”
“That applies to all of our contracts, even if we have exclusivity over tap beer you can always find non-Coopers beers in the fridge,” Mr Cooper said.
Mr Cooper said the deal was an important one for football clubs.
“I believe that South Australian footy league clubs, while some clubs are struggling to survive, should always have the ability to make their own decisions based on the members’ and the club’s needs,” he said.
“I think the clubs miss out because the SANFL controls the deal and therefore the clubs may not be able to take the best advantage open to them. And that’s what North Adelaide have said.”
The new Coopers sponsorship is also seen as being a vindication of Coopers’ strategy in releasing new products that depart from many of the company’s traditional offerings.
“Pale Ale is enormously popular but it is certainly an advantage for us to have 62 Pilsner and Coopers Clear on offer as well for the clubs,” Mr Cooper said.
“Pilsner 62 and Clear round out our portfolio, so yes, it is an advantage and it does a fill a gap, but it’s not the whole thing because there is still huge demand for Pale Ale and our other products.”