Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Patch-up and move on

This week came with some relief for those of the Thistle persuasion. The club made public its agreement with Just Employment Law, who will act as shirt sponsors for the remainder of the season, in place of the beleaguered MacB. The securing of some sort of arrangement to tide the club over into the summer months was crucial, particularly with the collapse of the prior contract coming shortly after the disappointing news of Firhill tenants Glasgow Warriors’ intentions to leave Firhill. This understood, the launch was perhaps a little low-key with respect to how vital this deal is to the club.

The arrangement was unlikely to capture the attention as much as the bright, seemingly destined to blossom, link with MacB. However, it seemed quite apparent that this was a fairly hum-drum type of press call. The sparse (a synonym of meagre and poor amongst other such unflattering words) attendance at the press call suggested this would not be making any front pages, which in turn does not say much about the general interest in the club’s affairs at the moment. We, as supporters, may like to think that our financial problems are well documented, or more positively, that we hold some media clout in a niche sort of way. Unfortunately, this clout was not apparent at Firhill or anywhere nearby this week. That is perhaps a thought for the day; does the general media actually realise that clubs, outside of Rangers, are experiencing financial difficulty? Forgive me for my cynicism, but a club with the ability to attract over fifty-thousand fans at a home fixture should not receive any sympathy for falling into monetary pitfalls, whilst other clubs struggle through a season and face an near-eternal struggle against the pulling power of the Old Firm.

While the launch itself wouldn’t exactly be a suitable candidate to get anyone out of their bed on a Monday morning, what was said and done was measured and sensible. A five-figure sum, a frustratingly vague tag admittedly, is nonetheless central to the club’s account and their health. Thistle director Greg Brown indicated his satisfaction at having come to an agreement with the new partners, whilst positive language was also used by Company Director David McRae. It is of course absurdly early to begin speculating about where this link could lead to, yet both representatives tacitly suggested that this agreement could be further developed after the close of the current football season. Such language is excellent to hear from a Thistle perspective; however we must also consider the extent to which a firm such as Just Employment Law could benefit from ties with a First Division football club. The company’s representatives stressed that this was a “new direction” for the company, having never made forays into the footballing world prior to the current engagement. Therefore, it will certainly be interesting to see how the two sides feel about the deal at the end of the season. A positive outcome, that is to say an extended deal, would be most welcome, whilst a break-off with another sponsor would provide the club with a little more of a black spot when the matter concerns sponsorship.

Turning to other matters, it is excellent to have the chance to welcome a new player to Firhill, something I am sure many of us thought we would never see again, quite happily settling for watching the same group of players financed by buttons and laces. However, the loan signing of Sean Welsh is an interesting one. Is the newcomer here to pass the time while Pat Fenlon builds his new team at Easter Road, or is this acquisition here to prove to the Irishman that he is worthy of a contract beyond the summer in Leith? Whatever the train of thought from the Hibernian end, we wish Sean Welsh well and hope he lives up to our own expectations, as well as those of his own manager. On that note, I shall conclude by expressing my content at the club’s securing of a metaphorical morphine in the form of some financial support. That done and secured, we as supporters must also remember that we have a major say in what the coming months hold for the club. We can resign ourselves to apathy and malaise, or actually address our own gripes and complaints by doing all we can to support the club, on and off the pitch.

Ruairidh MacLennan

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