After a long wait, Airdrieonians are proud to announce the new sponsor of our home strip... Airdrieonians Supporters' Trust.
In a five-figure deal lasting till the end of the season, the sponsorship is truly unique in world football, and we are sure it will meet with the approval of Airdrie fans everywhere.
The Trust and Club have agreed that the image of legendary Diamond fundraiser Mark Allison will appear on his beloved Airdrie shirt, a gesture everyone will see fitting. It will also be the first time in world football - as far as we know - that the image of a fan has appeared on a club shirt.
As everyone will know, Mark took great comfort and support from two local organisations - Maggies and St Andrews Hospice - and was a fervent fan and supporter of both these wonderful centres, who cared for him so well during his final months. The Trust have therefore agreed that Trackside Boards and Programme adverts - part of the sponsorship package - will go to both organisations. Programme adverts will also be given to both by the Supporters Trust, and boardroom hospitality will also be donated to both to auction off for funds. Fundraising events are also planned, and it is hoped that more club events can take place at both.
The official launch took place at Maggies earlier today, and was attended by Marion Pirrie and Lorna McCafferty - fundraising managers for Maggies and St Andrews respectively.
Marion Pirrie, Fundraising manager for Maggies Centre said “I am so excited to see Airdrie FC and the Supporters' Trust supporting the Centre and I'm loving the strips with Mark Allison’s face who was a huge supporter of the Centre.
"I’d like to say a huge thank you to both for raising money for Maggie’s Lanarkshire and continuing Mark Allison’s legacy, their efforts will allow us to continue to develop our unique, high quality programme of support to help people with cancer and their family and friends across Lanarkshire.
"We wish the club the best of luck and we’ll be there cheering them on to the end of the season.”
Lorna added “On behalf of the patients and staff of St Andrew’s Hospice I would like to thank the Airdrieonians Football Club Supporters’ Trust for donating this fantastic opportunity with the offer of the free Advertising Board at the stadium and for their continued help and support to the Hospice.”
Also at the launch were Supporters' Trust representatives. Willie Marshall, Supporters Trust chairman said: "The Trust are thrilled to invest in the Club as the main shirt sponsors for the home strip this season.
"We are delighted to continue the legacy which Mark Allison began, and hope to build on his work with Maggies and St Andrews Hospice now and in the future.
"During his illness Mark invested everything he had into raising funds for worthy causes and the Trust felt this should not be forgotten.
"His love of Airdrie inspired the Trust to celebrate his memory in this unique way - by putting his face below the beloved red Diamond.
"The Trust cannot survive without the backing of the fans and we hope that this gesture encourages others to join or renew their membership."
The Club were represented by Chairman Tom Wotherspoon, Head Coach Mark Wilson and players Jack Leitch, Kieran MacDonald and Adam Brown - all of whom were given a guided tour of the Centre. Those who are new to the club, and were not aware of Mark, were filled in on his exploits and everything that he had achieved.
Tom said: "Firstly, I want to thank the Trust for not just this financial backing, but everything that they do for the club.
"The relationship between both parties are excellent. I recognise and admire that they always have the best interests of the club and its supporters at heart, and this is another example of them providing the club with financial assistance to hopefully kick on and get out the division.
"As for Mark, I met him lots of times... more than most people will know about. He would often just appear at my office unannounced after visiting the hospital for treatment, and would come in for a coffee and a blether. He would phone me for hours on end, discussing ideas and plans.
"His enthusiasm was infectious for this club, and I am glad that his legacy continues to live on."
As a mark of respect, close friends and family were consulted in advance for their blessing on Mark’s face adorning the strip.
Mark's sister Julie Timmons, said: “I think it's amazing - Mark would be ecstatic, a dream come true. Incredible ... but truly deserved in my humble opinion.
I just wish he was here to see it”
Mark's close friend Sandy Basu was moved to tears on the news, and added: "Nearly six months ago to the day, 11th June, Mark Allison completed his last fund raising campaign for F**k Cancer with a sponsored walk through the streets of Airdrie. It started at Airdrieonians Football Stadium and end at Maggie's Cancer Centre at Monklands hospital.
"At this time he had raised over £73k, a remarkable achievement. These were two places that were entrenched in his heart and wherever he is fund raising now will remain.’
Commercial manager Douglas Allsop said: "If possible, one of the most recognisable strips in world football just became even more iconic. From a supply point of view, we are now forewarning people that we will not have enough to meet demand. We know that people who do not normally buy strips will be looking for one, due to their association with Mark.
"We have just under 100 strips going on sale tomorrow at 12:45pm, which we know will not be enough. We hope fans can appreciate that this is a unique situation, and have ordered 200 more from the supplier which will arrive in March.
"While football strips come and go, we know that Marks’ image on this one makes it timeless.’
Finally, everyone at the club would like to thank fans for their patience, and hope you will all agree, that someone up in the sky, is looking down with a massive grin.
St Andrew’s Hospice provides specialist palliative care to patients with life-limiting conditions which require complex symptom management, and/or end-of-life care. It is Lanarkshire's only specialist hospice and provides multidisciplinary support for patients, their families and carers. The Hospice opened in Airdrie in 1986 and in 2016 the Hospice celebrated it’s 30th anniversary. 2017 will see the commencement of our Hospice refurbishment. This will see the creation of additional single bedded rooms alongside multi-occupancy rooms and will make the Hospice fit for the next 30 years and beyond. Please visit www.st-andrews-hospice.com for more information.
Built in the grounds of Monklands Hospital Maggie’s Lanarkshire is a warm and welcoming place, with qualified professionals on hand to offer an evidence-based core programme of support that has been shown to improve physical and emotional wellbeing. Maggie’s Lanarkshire relies on voluntary donations to support and grow its network of Centres and to develop its unique, high quality programme of support. The charity’s aim is to make the biggest difference possible to people living with cancer and their family and friends. Please visit www.maggiescentres.org for more information.
The Supporters Trust relies on fundraising events, merchandise sales, and membership to be able to provide free season tickets for children and the sponsorship of the first team kit. Anyone wishing to join (£10 p/a) or donate can do so at the Trust Hatch and/or Merchandise stall on the concourse on matchdays or by paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit the Trust Facebook page for more details.