Aviva vows to stay involved in city community after severing ties with Canaries
- Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHI
A relationship between two of the most prominent names in the city spanning more than a decade is due to come to an end this summer.
However, bosses at Aviva, which is severing its ties with Norwich City Football Club after a 12-year association, have insisted it is not a symbolic move when it comes to its even longer association with the fine city.
The relationship began around the same time the insurance giant dropped the Norwich Union name, with the Aviva name emblazoned across the club’s shirt for several years thereafter.
And while the firm relinquished its role as the club’s main shirt sponsor in June 2017, it carried on working alongside the club as a community partner, which saw it support the club in its charity work and sponsor part of the Carrow Road stadium.
This summer, though, that relationship is coming to an end, with a contract between the two parties due to expire and not be renewed – a development the club’s chief operating officer Ben Kensell described as “disappointing”.
However, bosses at the former Norwich Union – which remains one of the largest employers in the city – have insisted the end of the relationship is nothing more than a contract ending and the right time to move on.
Lindsey Rix, chief executive officer for UK savings and retirement at Aviva, said: “Aviva has enjoyed a mutually successful partnership with Norwich City Football Club, and the most recent deal as community partner has been no different.
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“We are proud of what the partnership has achieved and wish the club all the best for their future.”
A spokesman for the insurance company went on to stress that Aviva would be continuing to work in a range of other community roles in the city.
They added: “We are involved in the Norwich community in a number of ways. We are sponsoring Run Norwich and are committed to community initiatives such as the Norwich Together programme.
“Our focus is on having a positive impact in our communities, as can also be shown by the Aviva Community Fund and our commitment to helping our people volunteer with local charity groups.”
Sources at both Aviva and the club also indicated the Covid-19 pandemic had no bearing on the end of the relationship, which was due to cease this summer regardless.
Mr Kensell said: “After a lengthy and successful partnership with Aviva, we’re of course disappointed that this relationship will now come to an end.
“To have such a long-standing relationship with a leading business in the local area is a real rarity in the current climate. That partnership is testament to a lot of great work over the 12-year period.
“All at the club would like thank Aviva for their work and support over the years.”
Robin Sainty, chairman of supporters’ group the Canaries Trust, said he was hopeful that it would not be a sign of things to come with the company distancing itself from its Norwich heritage.
He said: “I think it is quite sad, but equally these things come to an end... It will be interesting to see how it develops.
“From a footballing point of view, Aviva served the club well and was a name few fans will have had any issue with wearing on their shirt – it felt like a very strong relationship.”
Paul Burrell, of heritage watchdog the Norwich Society, added: “It is quite a shame and certainly we all want to see Aviva being as involved in the city community as much as possible.
“We certainly believe in these hard times big companies in Norwich like Aviva need to have strong involvement in the city’s heritage and there are plenty of ways this can be done.
“It would be nice to see it demonstrate its continued support for the city.”