Like most other divisions in English football, the Conference has had many sponsors. On 30 July it was announced, via an astoundingly poor press release, that Vanarama are its latest sponsors, replacing online payment firm Skrill. But one name still lives on. I’m pretty sure it’s not just my dad who still calls it the Vauxhall Conference.
After a quick check of Wikipedia I discovered the Conference’s first sponsors were Gola, for both the 84/85 and 85/86 seasons. Then began the 12-year association with Vauxhall.
I’m reminded, relentlessly whenever England play, that Vauxhall are sponsors of the national team, which is nice, obviously, but I thought it’d be nicer if they could sponsor the Conference too. Not just for nostalgia – there’s a good reason behind it.
“Football is the UK’s greatest passion and we’ve got it covered, shot by shot,” says Vauxhall’s website, proudly. At a time when the FA are desperately scratching around to find ways to improve the fortunes of the national side, it’d be a real statement of intent by Vauxhall if they supported the grass roots of our cherished sport, as well as the very top.
Forget League 3, or whatever else Greg Dyke and his cronies come up with. As a PR exercise, it would have shown a lot of people where Vauxhall thought the investment should have been made. As a company passionate about the sport, it could have led the way.
The division might be the graveyard of a lot of former league clubs, but right now it’s enjoying increased exposure due to the growing success of BT Sport.
And that’s why I think Vauxhall have missed a trick.