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DCFC Moving The Goalposts

Derby County FC broke new ground with ecig sponsorship but now shift their ecig stance.

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It is 2013 and football forums light up with the prospect of something new to argue about. For Derby, for once, it was not an opportunity to lament how woeful they are but discuss the ramification of their new sponsor – E-Lites. Derby’s board has announced a ban on vaping in the ground, two years later and with the world in possession of the recent “95%” PHE report.

Full of pomp, the club’s marketing executive announced in 2013: “Derby County are committed to helping fans who smoke lead healthier lifestyles. By offering E-Lites as an alternative we hope to encourage fans to take up a far healthier and safer option.”

It was a welcome step as, at the time, the likes of ASH were saying: “If this partnership is to last then E-Lites and Derby County will need to get their house in order and there is no time like the present.” The spokesperson went on to express his fears about marketing to children.

But now everyone has swapped over. ASH have become strong supporters of vaping and Derby, well, Derby probably wishes it hadn’t signed the sponsorship deal but then they hadn’t managed to find a single sponsor in the three preceding years. Vaping has been prohibited in almost every stadium in the UK and it was only a matter of time that they followed suit.

Mirroring the mediocre ambitions on the field, the club announced that it has little intention of supporting the off field health improvements it pioneered. The Derby Telegraph reported John Vicars, DCFC’s Chief Operating Officer, as now saying: “The safety and comfort of our supporters is paramount, which is why we have decided to make this change to our policy in relation to E-Cigarettes. We want to ensure that the iPro Stadium remains a safe and enjoyable environment for all supporters on a matchday. We felt it was important to make the change now and we thank our supporters for their understanding with this particular matter.”

Under the sponsorship partnership, samples of the ecigs were given to fans at on match-days. At the time the club said it was providing smokers with a "healthier and safer option". Quite how the club could have held such a position and then, after two years of pro-vaping research results, swap over is quite incredulous.

Football stadia have held a ban on alcohol in the seating areas for a number of years and one supporter sees a parallel. CazDC said: “Alcohol is also banned in the stands but allowed in the concourse area, so exactly the same! Whilst I don't have an issue with E cig smoke I agree that most smokers would I imagine be able to go 45 minutes without smoking - although to be fair can sometimes be very stressful watching the Rams!” But then alcohol isn’t banned in rugby stadia.

BodminRam probably sums up the stupidity of the move aptly: “Great idea... something else banned now. Can we ban hot drinks as well, or burgers and pies? Someone could get burnt. Flags and scarf's could get waved and poke you in the eye, don't jump up or down you could stand on someone's toe. Don’t shout or cheer when we score you could frighten someone. We should always listen to someone's complaint. Shouldn't we!”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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