Hockey comrades

e're behind you: Unison's John Campbell, left, with Steelers coach Ryan Finnerty, owner Tommy Smith and union officials
e're behind you: Unison's John Campbell, left, with Steelers coach Ryan Finnerty, owner Tommy Smith and union officials
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Steelers have become the latest club to announce a main sponsorship agreement with a trade union.

Yesterday, they confirmed they were being supported by Unison, the UK’s largest public service organisation.

Nobody is saying how much cash is involved but The Star understands the package could be worth up to £50,000 this coming season.

Unison represents more than 140,000 people across Yorkshire and the Humber - and their influence will be interesting when Steelers play big rivals Nottingham Panthers, who are sponsored by GMB, the general trade union.

But what is in it for Unison, in these straitened times?

Branch Secretary John Campbell explained: “We have been looking to support a project which will engage with young people and the community.

“The attraction for Unison is that this is something where our members can take whole generations of their family to in a safe environment and have a really smashing time.

“It applies to Unison members across Yorkshire and Humber,” said Cambpell, who said coach parties would come to the Arena from West Yorkshire.

“Many of our members were not aware of ice hockey and then had a first bite and are coming back as regular supporters of Steelers.

“Now, for many of our members it will be first time, but I’m sure it won’t be a last time.”

He said he expected a “a few thousand” union members would check out the sport.

Asked if there had been any resistance to the sponsorship among the membership, he said: “We have never have enough tickets for the people who contact our office, people who want to go.

“From a Unison point of view it is useful to receive a commitment from the Steelers to work with young and young, disadvantaged people. They will give them experience of the Steelers and taking them away from the streets.”

He said he endorsed the club’s plans to send players “into schools and promoting (the message of) not to take drugs and the benefits of healthy eating.”

Asked if the Summer collapse of the last Steelers’ operating company had tested his conviction to sponsor the club he said: “When we first looked at sponsorship there were some concerns because of what had happened with previous management structures.

“But we had discussions with Tony (Smith, owner) and we were satisfied in terms of governance and on that basis we have entered into agreement.”