Sunderland unveil 'ground-breaking' Invest in Africa sponsorship deal

The two-year agreement with the 'project' reflects the club's Premier League growth and will increase the Black Cats' global reach according to owner Ellis Short

Sunderland have reached an agreement for non-profit organisation Invest in Africa to become the club's official partner and shirt sponsor.

The North-East outfit have penned a two-year deal, which will see them wear the name of the organisation on their shirt from the beginning of the 2012-13 Premier League season.

Invest in Africa is a partnership of leading companies which aim to promote private-sector based business opportunities on the continent.

Owner and chairman Ellis Short has expressed his delight at signing the deal: “We are very proud to have augmented our relationship with Invest in Africa through this wonderful agreement.

"It is a partnership which sets a new benchmark for the club commercially, but what stands out is while doing so, it truly gives something back to both our own region and to a continent which has become a firm part of our club's success story over recent seasons.

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"Extending our relationship will enable us to put the club's knowledge and experience - allied with its immense global reach as part of the Premier League - fully into practice.

"It fits perfectly with our own aims as we continue showcasing Sunderland AFC to a global audience which simply loves football." he told reporters.

Tullow Oil, Africa's largest independent oil company, is the founding partner of the 'project', which will open the club up to a global market.

Aidan Heavey, chief executive of the company, has reflected Short's views, and believes Sunderland's fan base will benefit greatly from the agreement.

He added: "There's a huge, growing population- the biggest young population on the planet is in Africa, and they are football-mad.

"Sunderland will become the Premier League club in Africa. Everybody will be wearing the Sunderland shirt, every kid in every school will want a shirt which says 'Invest in Africa', believe me.

"It will be the number one club, so what you are looking at is a huge market and huge exposure, and Sunderland will have that exposure."