East Stirlingshire have this week launched a search for a major sponsor after the club revealed its main backer would not be renewing for another season.
The decision by Foxlane Garden Centre appears to have been made some time ago but Shire chiefs are now going public with their search for a successor.
And rather than seeing the withdrawal of the company which has adorned the front of Shire’s home strip for the last three seasons as a setback, club officials say it represents a new opportunity for Shire to form as fresh partnership with the commercial world.
“We would like to thank the Henderson family for their huge contribution over the years,” said Shire chairman Tony Ford.
“Without their investment it would be fair to say there might not have been a Shire to talk about, they have been generous benefactors and we have to recognise that publicly.
“But we are where we are and we now must cast our net and find a new major sponsor. We have been active already behind the scenes and have held discussions about the possibility of bringing another firm on board.
“However, nothing is set in stone and we would be very willing to speak to any company which might see commercial advantage in getting itself involved with the club.”
The Shire chairman says the image of the club as perennial losers is now changing; they are no longer rooted to the bottom of the Third Division and there are plans, now well-advanced, to develop as a community club for the Bainsford and Langlees area.
“I think the prospects are good,” said Ford. “I only need to go back to half-time at Ibrox on Saturday to see how far we have come in a short space of time. When we took on the club it was not in the best health, but to be leading Rangers 1-0 at Ibrox shows we have begun to make some substantial progress in ridding ourselves of the baggage of some of our most recent history.”
Ford says he would be happy to talk to any interested party willing to consider becoming Shire’s major sponsor next season. He also is at pains to stress he does not even like the word, and has his own vision of how any future relationship might work.
“I prefer not to use the word sponsor,” said the Shire chairman. “I would rather see it as a partnership.
Ford and his team have been working hard to bring in the vital revenue that will keep Shire a viable concern and says there have already been some notable successes.
The two main sponsors for the away shirt have already agreed to extend their existing one year deals into the 2013/14 season. And Shire will soon launch a new third choice jersey with a raffle to decide whose name should go on it.
“We hope holding a raffle for the front sponsor of the third choice shirt will appeal to many smaller businesses who, for a less substantial outlay, will gain considerable exposure. Tickets for this will go on sale soon.”
On the football front, Shire face Stirling Albion at Forthbank this weekend. A win over their county rivals would boost their ambitions to finish as high up the Third Division table as possible.
The standings may currently show Shire in ninth, just one point off current bottom dogs Clyde. But with seven teams, from Clyde at the bottom to Peterhead in fourth, separated by just seven points it is easy to see the value of even just a couple of wins to Shire in the coming few games.
Coach John Coughlin will have to re-organise his squad ahead of Saturday’s short trip. Michael Hunter starts a two match suspension while Nathan Shepherd picked up a knee injury at Ibrox which may keep him out of the action. On the plus side, Steven Jackson returns to the squad.