A successful partnership between The Football League's official charity partner Prostate Cancer UK and Millwall FC drew acclaim at the BT Sport Industry Awards on Thursday.
Industry leaders and iconic names from the world of sport converged for the prestigious event at Battersea Evolution with the ground-breaking relationship among the nominations in the Best Sponsorship of a Team or Individual category.
The charity’s presence at the star-studded event in London came after a hugely successful 2013/14 season in which they and the Lions worked closely on and off the pitch.
And those remarkable achievements were highlighted to a 1,750 strong gathering of the cream of UK sport including legends Lord Sebastian Coe, AP McCoy and Thierry Henry. Arsenal star Jack Wilshere, Great Britain and Irish Lions skipper Sam Warburton, presenter Clare Balding and comedian Eddie Izzard were also in attendance.
Prostate Cancer UK chief executive Owen Sharp spearheaded a Men United contingent at the event with the partnership up against Jaguar - Innovation Partner for Team Sky, Mars – England football team, O2 – England Rugby and Umbro – Everton FC.
And while O2 collected the top prize for their work within national rugby, Sharp believes the synergy between Prostate Cancer UK and Millwall, designed to let the charity ‘live its brand’ of being bold, direct and uncompromising, further highlighted its presence across the sporting landscape.
He said: “Men United is centred around friendship, and doing something great together, and the greatest testament to our wonderful relationship with Millwall is that it is as strong now as it was when our logo was emblazoned on their first team shirts in the 2013/14 season.
“Some questioned our logic when we begun our journey with the club, but working together to raise awareness of a disease that kills one man every hour has been an honour for us and long may our friendship continue.
“The legacy that exists now, not only in South London, but in the football and sporting fraternity, is built on those amazing foundations. Whatever division Millwall are in they are always Men United.”
Millwall chief executive Andy Ambler added: “Millwall’s relationship with Prostate Cancer UK has been a real force for good and we’re delighted to see that it continues to be recognised because it has been enormously beneficial to both parties.
“Prostate Cancer UK is a truly fantastic charity and does a monumental amount to ensure that as many people as possible are aware of the disease and its symptoms. Millwall’s involvement in that process, by wearing their logo on our shirts, providing regular information across our various publications, online platforms and much more, has been a source of real pride for everyone at the club."
The partnership between Prostate Cancer UK and Millwall was born in June 2013, when the Lions approached the charity following a recommendation by The Football League.
As part of the deal, the Prostate Cancer UK logo appeared on the front of the Championship club’s first team kit throughout the 2013/14 season. In addition the charity benefited from in-stadium advertising, regular matchday programme features and a joint fundraising programme. Millwall FC also waived all commercial fees, making the sponsorship free for the charity.
The two parties worked closely together during the season-long partnership with a plethora of activities enabling supporters, local residents and the football family to become more aware of the most common cancer in men.
Most importantly the partnership led to a host of supporters coming forward to share stories of their battles with the disease. Personal stories – like the tragic yet inspiring tale of Lions’ fan Brian Kilgannon – are one of the most powerful ways to raise awareness and are highly effective at generating media coverage, and raising money.