Glentoran has claimed a record deal for Northern Irish football through a stadium naming rights agreement with bookmaker Bet McLean.
Bet McLean, which has been the Belfast NIFL Premiership club’s main sponsor for almost a decade, has agreed an initial five-year deal worth £250,000 (€292,000/$343,000) which will name Glentoran’s home the BetMcLean Oval.
Bet McLean holds an option to extend for a further five-year term, with Glentoran stating that the contract is believed to be the biggest sponsorship deal ever reached with a football club in Northern Ireland.
Glentoran has been based at the Oval since 1892, with plans submitted to Belfast City Council earlier this year for a major renovation of the stadium, which currently has a restricted capacity of around 6,000.
The proposals include two new seated stands totalling 4,000 capacity, plus reconfigured terracing of 2,000 apiece at either end of the ground and the installation of a synthetic pitch. The Belfast Telegraph newspaper said the project could cost up to £10m, jointly funded by public money and the club’s owners.
Paul McLean, managing director of Bet McLean, said: “The past few years has been a rollercoaster ride for Glentoran. There have been many ups and downs but I believe this is the perfect time for me to cement our relationship with the club, especially with a new owner, and as it progresses into the professional era.
“Hopefully in the next year or so we will see the BetMcLean Oval fully modernised and upgraded and become a showpiece stadium and the home of a great club with such an amazing footballing history.”
Glentoran chairman, Stephen Henderson, added: “Paul stood firmly by the club and saw us through some dark times as we rescued, stabilised and restructured the club to enable us in turn to attract the investment that has come from (owner) Ali Pour.
“Paul and his firm continued to stand by the club as we entered a phase of building and transitioning to full time football. Now they have once again, very publicly stood by the club by signing the most lucrative sponsorship agreement in our history, and quite possibly the biggest for a football club in Northern Ireland.
“By aligning their brand with Glentoran for the next five years, Bet McLean are sending a clear signal of their confidence in the direction which this club is travelling. All of us, from the board, the manager and the players, hope to repay that faith by working to achieve trophy success.”