Sheffield’s big two are cosying up together - but that’s as far as this unique footballing deal will go.
Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday have forged a twin-sponsorship agreement, the first in English football, where the shirts will carry the names of the same two sponsors.
After news of the six-figure deal broke, some fans speculated it could be the start of a process which, one day, might see the two clubs looking at a merger into a single club.
However, despite an arrangement - called ‘Supporting Sheffield’ - which inevitably ties the clubs closer together off the field, any suggestion that the clubs may become one can be utterly dismissed.
The headline sponsors are Sheffield companies with strong links to both clubs. Motor dealership Gilder Group VW will appear on Wednesday’s home shirt and United’s away shirt, while Westfield Health will be on United’s home shirt and Wednesday’s away kit.
The clubs and sponsors welcomed it as an exciting partnership and United director Scott McCabe said: “It is the first joint deal in English football and, therefore, a footballing first again for the city of Sheffield.”
Owls defender Lewis Buxton said: “It can only be a good thing. It is an innovative way of doing things and might be the best thing to do in tough financial times to benefit the club. I can understand supporters’ cynicism because of the rivalry between the two.”