For the biggest of fans who wake up and sleep with the KAA gent, this news doesn’t come as a complete surprise. “We saw this for a while,” says Wim Vanbeervliet, president of supporters’ union Tribune 7. “For example, we noticed that VDK customers no longer get the discount on subscriptions. This was doing the rounds in the aisles for several days.”
Still, it will take some time to get used to not seeing the VDK logo on the buffaloes’ chests from next season. “For many supporters, VDK and the club had grown almost together,” says Reine de Grieve, president of the supporters’ council. “He has always supported us, at peak times and when things went down.”
Wim Vanbievliet goes a bit further: “Without them, KAA Gent would not exist. I remember the late 1990s when the club was in debt with hundreds of millions of euros. KAA Gent was a rudderless vessel, but with VDK as main sponsor, made a safe haven. Thanks to him, the club was able to breathe again and pay off debts. (continue reading below photo)
Fortunately, those concerns are over, but it’s still an exciting time for supporters. KAA Gent is also looking for an investor and after ten years Ghelmko Arena may also get a new name.
“I’m a little concerned,” says musician and supporter Frederick Zion. “That’s why I hope VDK can continue to play a role now. For the last 35 years, the bench, along with the supporters, has been a common thread for the club. VDK itself puts forward stability and local anchoring as values, So we count on them to make our voices heard as well. If a foreign investor knocks here without a club or city link, it is up to the VDK to counter it. (continue reading below photo)
not a gambling company
We will officially find out who the new main sponsor is later this month. Supporters look forward to a new long-term cooperation. Wim Vanbiervliet says, “A one hit wonder would be a pity.” “I hope that it will again become a party with which KAA Gent can build a solid relationship. A local partner with the same values as VDK, such as sustainability: that would be ideal.
Certainly not in line with those values: sports betting. All three supporters wholeheartedly agree that they would rather not see a gambling company on Gif Orban and Sven Kums’ chest. “A main sponsor is more than just a lender,” says Wim VanBiervliet. “After all, it is a party you join. Gambling advertising would not be wise, as it will be banned in football in two years.
Read this also. End of an era of KAA Gent: VDK Bank closes after 35 years as main sponsor