In football, the majority of investment into clubs at all levels comes from sponsorship deals and endorsements, as much as it does from winning competitions and trophies. Whether this finance comes from international corporations looking for marketing opportunities, or local businesses wanting to spread their name in the community, endorsements are normally undertaken in order to make some sort of return for the investor, whether financial or through brand exposure.
However, a growing number of clubs are attracting investment as charitable organisations rather than simply for business gains. In the Italian lower-leagues, a Saudi businessman and philanthropist, Fahad Al Tamimi, has invested a substantial amount of finance into USD Noto Calcio but for charitable purposes rather than financial returns.
Fahad recognised that the struggling football club lay at the heart of the city’s community and that by improving the club’s facilities, including the Stadio Giovianni Palatucci stadium, he could restore pride back to the area. Firstly, the Stadio Giovianni Palatucci stadium was falling into disrepair and so, as the club’s official sponsor, Fahad Al Tamimi led the regeneration of the ground to restore it to its former glory.
Located less than a kilometre from the Noto, Zupparda, the stadium has a proud history – it was named after local hero John Palatucci, a police officer who earned the medal for civil valour and the title “servant of god” for rescuing over 5,000 people from the Nazi-fascist regime in the Second World War. Built in the eighties, with funding from Italia 90 World Cup, the ground was never completed and soon fell into disrepair with unwanted vandalism. After more than 20 years of neglect, Fahad Al Tamimi’s company TIMCO provided much needed finance and the stadium underwent refurbishment in 2010. While many wealthy sponsors prefer to focus on gaining maximum exposure from their investment by working with top tier teams, Fahad Al Tamimi’s chose to work with an upcoming club where the return on investment is more tangible as a benefit for the community.
Al Tamimi has helped nurture a developing football team which still maintains its ties to the local area, unlike global football clubs operating worldwide with little connection to their fans. The results since Al Tamimi’s investment have been impressive and the club has achieved two promotions within the last eight years.