Football giants announce season's

Mathew Little, mathew.little@haynet.com

Large clubs are not generous givers when the fundraising efforts of fans are taken out of the equation.

As the new football season gets under way, top Premiership clubs have announced their charity partnerships.

Chelsea has reaffirmed its relationship with Clic Sargent, Manchester United has continued a five-year partnership with Unicef and Arsenal has selected a smaller charity - the Willow Foundation.

But according to figures from the Charities Aid Foundation, football clubs are not generous corporate givers, if the fundraising efforts of their fans are taken out of the equation.

According to CAF's Charity Trends 2006, the most generous British football club is Manchester United. But the club's community investment - defined as gifts of money, products and staff time - was only £68,000 in 2003/04, compared with pre-tax profits of £27m. Newcastle United gave £37,000 in 2004/05 after breaking even.

In third place was Scottish Premier League winner Celtic. The club gave £18,000 to charity after making a loss of £7m in 2004/05. Chelsea is not included in the CAF Charity Trends table because it is not a plc. Arsenal, which doesn't make the top 500, did not quantify its community investment.

A spokesman for Chelsea said the club did not make cash donations to charity "as a point of principle". He said its work for charity comprised "direct money-raising activities", staff volunteering and donations of products, such as signed shirts. Manager Jose Mourinho's Armani coat was sold at auction for £22,000 last year.

Last season, the club's fundraising activities brought in £573,000 for Clic Sargent and a presentation took place at Chelsea's opening match against Manchester City. The fundraising total included a dinner attended by famous ex-players and fans, which contributed £110,000. Overall, Chelsea said it raised £1.34m for various charities last season.

Manchester United will also continue its formal partnership with Unicef, which has been running since 1999. The club gave a theme to its opening match of the season against Fulham to publicise Unicef's five-year Aids campaign. A giant Unicef campaign flag was unveiled before the game and will be flown at every Premiership home game during the season. A Unicef advertising board will also be visible at the side of the pitch for the whole season. Unicef says the relationship with the club is the longest-running collaboration between a Premiership club and a global charity.

The partnership has raised more than £2m.

Manchester United's sponsor, American International Group, also launched a fundraising initiative at the Fulham match. The insurance company will donate £1,000 to children's charities for every goal scored this season by Alex Ferguson's team.

Premiership rival Arsenal has unveiled a new charity partner for the 2006/07 season. The Willow Foundation organises special days out for young adults with life-threatening conditions such as cancer or motor neurone disease. The charity was established by former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson after his daughter died of cancer in 1999, and in 2005 it became a national organisation. The decision maintains a tradition of supporting charities with links to the club. Last year's nominated charity, the David Rocastle Trust, set up in memory of the former Arsenal and England midfielder, who died of cancer aged 33, will get £150,000 from fundraising efforts.

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