Saving grace in nick of time

Friday, April 19
Geelong Advertiser _ Graham Bicknell

THE alarm bells starting ringing months ago. Naming rights sponsor Baytec was not going to come up with the reputed $1.4 million over three years to help the Cats keep reducing their debt and so remain afloat.

When the deadline for the first payment was missed, the ringing became a din. Now, according to Geelong Football Club chief executive Brian Cook, the two groups are at ``arm's length.''

Where it all went wrong is not for us to know just yet, or so it would seem.

What was clear to Cook, the GFC board and the administration, was that something had to be done - and fast.

That Skilled Engineering, a labour supplier, was prepared to jump on board at the 11th hour is a credit to that company. It also is a credit to the club.

Finding any sponsors in today's business climate is an achievement in itself. The poor old Western Bulldogs just yesterday managed to dig up a sponsor for match day. Only a minimal victory.

Skilled will part with upwards of $500,000 for the two year deal. Another major or ``protected'' sponsor is still needed but, for the moment, total disaster has been averted.

What is more remarkable in this arrangement is that Skilled is prepared - at least this year - to gain very little out of it in terms of total recognition for their involvement.

All the fixtures have been printed and released bearing the Baytec Stadium title, VicRoads has to get around to changing the road signs and the season is already running in earnest. Regardless, they've put their hand in their pocket anyway.

Shell, Baytec and now Skilled Stadium. It's all been a little unsettling for the fans who still call it Kardinia Park anyway.

There will be some smirking, finger-pointing and muffled laughter about all this. The Cats and Skilled know this and are prepared to wear it.

When it settles down though, the money will still be in the bank.

Skilled Stadium. At least it has a sporting ring to it.