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Miliband announces sponsor deal

Sunderland vice-chairman David Miliband has announced a "ground-breaking" African sponsorship deal, which is the biggest such tie-up in the club's history.

The Black Cats revealed a two-year partnership agreement with Invest in Africa, a non-profit organisation who will advertise on the club's shirt next season.

The initiative is being funded by Tullow Oil, the largest independent oil firm in Africa, who are looking to increase investment in the continent - whilst also opening up a new market to Sunderland.

Former Foreign Secretary Miliband said: "This is money for this season, it's the best deal in Sunderland's history, but we are not putting a figure on it because there are more companies that are going to join and as more companies join, the benefits will grow.

"As and when we publish accounts and show the details of our finances, you will see more detail of what this is bringing, but we are confident this is the best commercial deal in Sunderland's history. It will grow as more companies join Tullow Oil, because today we are issuing an invitation for other companies to join.

"I am sure that fans are asking, 'Is there money in it?', to which the answer is yes, and they will also be asking, 'Well, hang on, Invest in Africa, yes, but what about investing in Sunderland?'. It's really important to say in the modern world, investment in Africa is an opportunity for investment to bounce back into Sunderland and into the wider north-east. This is a big opportunity for wealth and jobs in our region as well as in the continent of Africa.''

Owner and chairman Ellis Short, who described the deal as "ground-breaking" is confident that the tie-up with Invest in Africa will help to secure the club's long-term future.

Short said: "I am proud to be the guardian of a football club with such a strong foundation in the local community, with fantastic supporters and staff, all of whom have a passion to continue to grow and develop.

"We all want for the club to continue to prosper and to expand its global audience. The appointment last season of Martin O'Neill, this announcement today, we think are all additional evidence of our ambition to continue to improve.

"Tullow Oil, the initial founding partner of Invest in Africa, is a fantastic company, a big, successful well-run, reputable company and just the kind of company and people we want to be associated with going forward.''

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