Bailiffs made famous by Channel 5 will sponsor Widnes Viking’s stadium.
DCBL Group, stars of Channel 5’s Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away, have signed a deal with Halton Council for an as-yet undisclosed amount to become the main sponsor of Halton Stadium in Widnes.
The deal will see the stadium called the DCBL Stadium and provide sponsorship income that the council has been lacking for the past two years.
However, several councillors are understood to be unhappy with the deal, signed without formal discussion by a council committee, due to concerns about “reputational damage” to the local authority from association with bailiffs.
The stadium is the second sponsorship deal DCBL have signed in Halton since moving to the borough in February 2018. The company also sponsored this year’s Halton Business Awards, organised by the local chamber of commerce.
DCBL’s CEO, Gary Robinson, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We hope it’s going to be beneficial to the community and the economy and maybe help the mighty Widnes Vikings get back on top.”
The council-owned ground, home of the Widnes Vikings rugby league club, has been without a sponsor since the previous deal with local company Select Security ended in 2017.
Mr Robinson added: “We think the stadium sponsorship will help Halton Borough. We’re extremely proud to do it.”
In response to concerns about the impact on the council’s reputation, Mr Robinson said he understood that there was “a stigma” attached to bailiffs, but stressed that his business had “the most ethical teams in the country”.
He said: “We do pride ourselves on ethical enforcement, and the TV show made us the UK face of the enforcement industry.
“That also brought a lot of scrutiny. We knew fairly early on that everything had to be done correctly, ethically, and we have ever accreditation that’s out there to get.”
The lack of a sponsor and falling sales income since the Vikings were relegated from Super League last year has meant the stadium has run significantly over budget.
Last year, income from executive box bookings alone was £57,000 short of its target, and income from gym membership at the stadium underachieved by £64,000 as the council closed the main gym to allow its finance team to move out of rented offices and into the stadium.
On top of these losses, it emerged earlier this year that the council was owed £350,000 by the Vikings, who went into administration in February before being taken over by new owners.
Halton Council was contacted for comment on this story.