BY CHRIS MCNULTY
FINN Harps have confirmed that the McGettigan’s Group will be the club’s main sponsor during 2014, Harps’ 60th anniversary year.
2014 is a big year for Harps as it also marks the 40th anniversary of their winning of the FAI Cup in 1974 and club legendary, the League of Ireland’s all-time top goalscorer Brendan Bradley was among those who attended this evening’s launch at McGettigan’s Bar at the Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny.
The Dubai based company has been continually expanding its brand – and in November McGettigan’s Bar in Letterkenny threw its doors open.
McGettigan’s have entered an arrangement with Harps that will see them act as the club’s principal commercial partner.
The initial agreement is on a one-season basis, with the option of a second provided the relevant people are satisfied at the conclusion of the 2014 League of Ireland season.
“Everyone at Finn Park is thrilled that a successful Donegal company like McGettigan’s will be working with us during our diamond jubilee year,” said Sean Quinn, Finn Harps’ acting chairman.
“They are a highly reputable company that have created a recognised international brand, and who continue to provide excellent employment opportunities for Irish people both at home and abroad.”
McGettigan’s take over from North-West Forestry Services, whose logo was emblazoned on the front of Harps’ jerseys in 2013.
The initial contact with the McGettigan’s Group was made to Michael McBrearty, the former proprietor of Junction 15 Bar in Ballybofey, who was a strong supporter of Harps and is now working with McGettigan’s, based in Dubai.
“We presented our ideas going forward and they took us on board,” said Harps’ Commercial Officer, Aidan Campbell.
“Everybody knows the McGettigan’s brand. They’re not just a successful Donegal company, but they’re a company that has exported their brand. They’re employing a lot of Irish people, at home and abroad. We’re very proud to have them on board.
“We’re delighted to be working with McGettigans over this season – and hopefully beyond that.”
Harps are aiming to repay the faith of McGettigan’s this year. New manager Ollie Horgan, senior coach James Gallagher, club captain Kevin McHugh and new signing Packie Mailey also attended this evening’s launch.
Having a major sponsor on board comes as a relief to the powers that be at Finn Park.
Campbell said: “Sponsors nowadays don’t just want their name on a sticker or their name on a badge – they want the interactive packages that will get them a tangible response. We have good marketing people at Finn Park and we have a good support base who will get behind sponsors who back the club.”
Jim and Dennis McGettigan see opening in Letterkenny and becoming main sponsor of Finn Harps as extremely exciting developments for the brand.
“Over the past three years we feel we have represented Ireland fantastically in Dubai, we have promoted Irish music, culture and cuisine to the global Ex-Pat community in Dubai,” said CEO Dennis McGettigan.
“Moving back home and investing in the area where it all started for my father is an extremely proud moment for us as a family. Jim is a proud Donegal man so this is always where his heart has been.”
Harps will soon launch new jerseys for their 60th anniversary, while there are several other initiatives in the offing. The Football Association of Ireland CEO John Delaney is expected to be a guest of the club at an anniversary dinner that is planned for the May Bank Holiday weekend, while Harps officials are aiming for a big attendance at the opening game of the season, against Waterford United at Finn Park on Friday March 7
Campbell said: “There aren’t too many football clubs in the League of Ireland that have stayed in existence since their formation in the same entity, but Finn Harps has managed that.”
He praised a number of his marketing team for their endeavours: designer Ciaran McLaughlin, whose artwork incorporating an iconic image of one of Bradley’s goals from the ’74 Cup final was on show; the club’s website team of Rodney Dullaghan and Aidan McNelis; media officer Joe Doherty and historian Bartley Ramsay.
Before the start of the new season, there will be changes in the corridors of power on Navenny Street.
Quinn has been acting chairman since the departure of Joey O’Leary, but the club is expected to name a new chairman at the forthcoming AGM, which will take place in early February.
Prior to O’Leary’s departure as Chairman, the club also lost Treasurer Denise O’Neill, who had been heavily steeped in the club’s administration.
Harps have recently undertaken what they say was ‘a comprehensive and rigorous analysis of our operations’ and are aiming to inject new blood into the Board of Directors.
Seamus Bradley is helping out with administration while Maurice O’Donnell is looking after ‘operations on the pitch’.
Harps have ruled out hiring a person in a Chief Executive-type role, however. Campbell said: “Ideally, a League of Ireland club would have two or three people employed to oversee affairs.
“The business model doesn’t allow for that. Our gate receipts account for 20 per cent expenditure so rest needs to be found from somewhere else.”