Suns bask in new sponsorship deal - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Suns bask in new sponsorship deal

Darren Cartwright 06/12/2010 07:07:50 PM Comments (0)

The lack of a business class seating option to cart injured players after interstate AFL matches is the least of Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna's concerns.

The fledgling Suns have signed a three-year sponsorship deal, believed to be worth $1.5 million, with Virgin Blue who are now the official carrier of the AFL.

Unlike the previous official airline Qantas, Virgin Blue does not have business class seating on flights within Australia, although it has premium economy.

There is growing concern amongst the AFL Players' Association that the new deal has not taken into consideration player comfort on long haul flights or the requirements of injured players, especially those with ankle or knee problems.

McKenna said the Suns have been using Virgin Blue for the past two years because Qantas does not fly into the Gold Coast.

While injured players are not permitted to sit in exit aisles, the airline has the option of blocking out additional seats.

"As far as the last two years go, I think it's (Virgin Blue economy) is a bit more spacious," McKenna said.

"Virgin may block off a seat alongside. We have not had an issue for the last two years."

Suns chief executive Travis Auld said they had been dealing with Virgin for several months and the co-major sponsorship announcement included jumper signage.

"Qantas has not flown into this market for a number of years so it's a moot debate for us," Auld said.

"To be honest we've been talking to Virgin for quite a number of months and we can do that because Qantas do not fly into this market.

"For us this is about our community and our footy club."

Former Brisbane Lions triple premiership defender Mal Michael said there was more at stake than just accommodating injured players.

He said many players liked the option of paying to upgrade their seat when flying to Perth or Adelaide.

"A lot of players don't mind paying the extra to sit in business class when they know they'll arrive fresher and healthier for the expense," Michael told AAP.

"It's an option that should be available for the players.

"Injured players also can't travel in an exit aisles and on a long flight they need the space."

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