In 2016, Sydney Roosters Chairman, Mr Nick Politis AM celebrates the 40th anniversary of his association with rugby league and the Sydney Roosters, which began with the ground-breaking precedent he set in 1976 when he became the first jersey sponsor – not only in rugby league, but Australian sport.
In 1976, Mr Politis AM was major shareholder in City Ford and paid $50,000 to have the business name branded on the famous Eastern Suburbs jersey.
The first game in which the City Ford-sponsored jersey appeared was the World Club Challenge match the Roosters played against St Helens on June 29, 1976 at the Sydney Cricket Ground before a crowd of almost 27,000.
Mr Politis AM said it was a long process to receive the approval to advertise in the jersey, but he was ultimately able to convince the rugby league boss at the time, Kevin Humphreys, of the difficulty that Sydney rugby league clubs faced financially. Ultimately, with a number of clubs based in Sydney, it wasn’t viable for them to expect to survive on just ticket sales and raffles.
“There were a number of meetings in lead-up to make it happen, and it was a very proud day when we got it over the line,” said Mr Politis AM.
The Roosters Chairman remembers the deal well, and believes it was a valuable business decision.
“Because we were the first jersey sponsor of any sport in the country, it made big news and everyone was talking about it. Anyone who didn’t know City Ford soon did. I got my value out of it in the first 24 hours,” he said.
“We had a glamour team that had just won two grand finals. The players were in the papers every day. It was great value and within two years, every club in the competition had a name on the front of their jerseys.”
The Roosters side that competed in the 1976 World Club Challenge match was Captained by the late and great Arthur Beetson, with Roosters legend Russell Fairfax scoring the first try of the match.
40 years later and the Roosters will once again play St Helens as a part of the 2016 World Club Series. This time, the Roosters will travel to England to play at St Helens home ground, Langtree Park, on Friday, February 19.
Photo courtesy of Gregg Porteous/The Daily Telegraph