New partnership takes flight

September 3, 2020

Two of North East sport’s major players have entered into a partnership set to transform community sport across the region. Simon Rushworth shines a light on one of this summer’s regional success stories

Synergy: ‘the interaction or cooperation of two or more organisations to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate parts.’

GiveToLocal’s innovative partnership with Newcastle Eagles is the very definition of a noun widely used but rarely more apt.

Little wonder, therefore, that ‘synergy’ was the buzzword of choice at a busy yet socially distanced media launch announcing a wide-ranging partnership between two of the region’s community sport champions.

An event attended by both the BBC and ITV heard how North Tyneside-based grassroots sport service GiveToLocal replaces Esh Group as the Eagles’ main sponsors ahead of the 2020/21 British Basketball League (BBL) season.

However, a timely agreement is about so much more than branding.

For both partners the forward-thinking deal represents a far-reaching approach to basketball in the community that will impact on the sport at every level.

Neil Gardiner, founder and CEO at GiveToLocal explains: “Newcastle Eagles is a mainstay of the North East’s sporting and business community and has been for more than 20 years.

“It’s a privilege to be partnering with Paul Blake and his team and there’s a shared sense of optimism around this agreement.
“The Eagles and their foundation have a track record for enhancing communities and working tirelessly to improve the mental and physical health of thousands of people across the North East.

“This relationship has huge potential and fits the bigger picture as far as GiveToLocal is concerned.

“We weren’t actively looking to enter into a national partnership on this scale at this stage of our development but opportunities like this don’t come around too often.

“As soon as I spoke to Paul it was clear that there was a real synergy between the two organisations.”

Neil continues: “Of course, it helps to build
our profile as the main sponsor of Britain’s most successful basketball club. Our branding will
be visible in every BBL venue and the Eagles’ national reach allows us to connect with the wider community of GiveToLocal clubs, teams and volunteers across the UK.

“That, in itself, is of huge benefit to our rapidly expanding partnerships team working under our head of corporate relations, David Broom.

“We have also discussed ways in which we can add to the experience around the Eagles Community Arena and we want our name to become synonymous with one of British sport’s genuine success stories.

“However, we will also be playing an active role in the Eagles’ community work across the North East and that’s the game-changer as far as I’m concerned.

“I feel there’s so much we can learn from an organisation that has never lost sight of the value of community sport.”

For a decade Esh Group adorned Newcastle’s vests and the construction firm shared in many of the Eagles’ greatest successes. However, that fruitful partnership came to an end earlier this year and the club’s owner and CEO Paul Blake set about sourcing a new main sponsor.

“We enjoy a fantastic relationship with ESH Group and they will always be a key part of Newcastle Eagles,” Paul says. “It’s impossible to underestimate the contribution they’ve made to the club and the foundation over the years.
“However, times change and the challenge was to find an equally supportive main sponsor during what is a very difficult period for organisations everywhere.

“A mutual friend suggested I spoke to Neil. I was well aware of the work GiveToLocal is doing at a national and regional level but I didn’t realise just how much we had in common.

“This is the ideal fit for Newcastle Eagles and everyone at the club is excited to be working with GiveToLocal.

“When it comes to community sport, our aims and ambitions align perfectly and I’m convinced we can do a lot of good work together.”

Central to the new partnership is the support of women’s basketball in the North East. Newcastle Eagles WBBL has never had a main shirt sponsor… until now.

“It’s another positive step forward for women’s hoops in the North East,” adds Rachael Bland, one of the Eagles’ homegrown stars and a familiar face on the region’s basketball scene.

“We share a venue and a court with the BBL team and now we share a main sponsor. Everyone is buzzing.”

Supporting the women’s game was uppermost in Neil’s mind when he was considering GiveToLocal’s offer. He adds: “That was one of the things which stood out for me when I first looked at how we could work with the Eagles.

“Grassroots sport is about boys and girls, men and women and it made sense that we supported Chris Bunten and the WBBL team as well as Ian MacLeod and the BBL squad.

“The two teams are closer than they’ve ever been. Our full support is something else they have in common.”

GiveToLocal’s ability to pivot in the face of the coronavirus pandemic has been well documented and partnering with the Eagles represents another significant step forward for Neil and his team.

The move follows hot on the heels of partnership agreements with North East Times and the British American Football Association and acceptance into the North East England Chamber of Commerce.
“These targeted moves add value to our corporate offer and increase our visibility at a time when more than 50,000 teams nationwide, across 15 sports, have registered to use our service,” adds Neil.

“From day one our mission has been to back sport, boost business and build networks.

“We are here to challenge the perception that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) spend and marketing spend need to be two separate things.

“From the outset we have designed a solution that adds value to the businesses that choose to support their local community by partnering with GiveToLocal.

“Through our reach, our sporting partnerships, our media and press relations and our proactive corporate partnership team, we are perfectly positioned to create a community of like-minded businesses.

“We seek to identify the very best community- focused businesses and encourage them to support their local clubs through GiveToLocal. Then we aim to introduce those businesses to each other and grow an increasingly influential corporate network.”

To discuss partnership opportunities, contact head of corporate relations, David Broom, via

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