Cash-strapped Cronulla have declared they won’t sell the NRL club’s sponsorship to an adult dating website even for $50 million.
International social networking service Ashley Madison – whose company slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair” – have reportedly offered a record deal worth $11 million over a decade for jersey and stadium sponsorship rights.
It includes covering the $1 million fine provisionally imposed on the club by the NRL over its 2011 supplements program.
Sharks CEO Steve Noyce had already said the club was not interested but issued a stronger statement on Tuesday after Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman said he was sure Cronulla members would want the club to take the deal.
“I bet if the Sharks polled their members and said ‘with this money we can go and buy some talented players and win a championship’, they would take it every day,” Biderman told Fairfax.
But Noyce was having none of it.
“The Sharks can confirm that under no circumstances will they be pursing a sponsorship arrangement with an adult dating website as has been recently reported,” he said.
“The Sharks stand for quality entertainment, that our members, fans and community are proud of, our vision is very much focused towards integrity, family inclusion and community engagement.
“We are not going to sell the very fabric of this club at any cost, even if the offer was $50 million the answer is still no. It goes against the intrinsic beliefs and values that gives us purpose.
“It is not generally our way to publicise discussions, but so much has already been written, that we felt it was necessary to set the record straight.
“It is now a non-issue for us and we will be declining to give it any more media coverage.”
Noyce also said the club would soon reveal two long-term partnership deals that would run until the 2020 season.