It’s been a busy summer of comings and goings at The Showgrounds, as Newry City AFC prepare for life in the Bluefin Sport Championship.
Relegated from the Irish Premiership last season after a meteoric rise that saw four promotions in five seasons take the 2013 reformed club from the Mid Ulster Football League Intermediate B division to the top of the local game, it was maybe inevitable that change would always be afoot.
With the new season only a little over three weeks away, City manager Darren Mullen has welcomed no fewer than five fresh faces into the camp, as his side looks to bounce back to the Irish Premiership at the first time of asking.
Ultan Lennon, Stephen McCavitt and Adam Foley have come in alongside familiar local lads Stevie Moan and John Grant, as Mullen looks to bolster his onfield options ahead of the season opener away to H&W Welders on August 3rd, but it’s a signing away from the field of play that is set to create a little bit of history down at The Showgrounds ahead of the big kick-off.
That’s because, for the first time since reformation, the club has appointed a Commercial Manager to act on behalf of their interests in the shape of local PR and Marketing guru, Patricia Heaney of I Am Digital Group.
The Ballyholland native and Managing Director of the up-and-coming marketing consultancy is delighted to be on board, on what she concedes in one of the companies most exciting projects to date.
“As a Newry businesswoman, it is a very proud moment for me and for all involved at I Am Digital Group to take on this role with our hometown club”, said the 29-year-old.
“After four years of operating under the I Am Social Media moniker, the decision to rebrand to I Am Digital Group came in the wake of adding a number of diverse services to our offering and securing a role like this one at Newry City AFC is a prime example of the direction we want to take the business in”.
Specialising in brand development, I Am Digital Group provides start-up and established businesses with marketing and business consultancy solutions designed to maximise client acquisition opportunities and generate sales.
Now offering a range of services from website design and content creation to event management and business consultancy, the Newry based firm services clients in the Irish Republic, the UK mainland and as far afield as the USA, as well as many local enterprises.
Patricia, whose own personal expertise are in event management, is certainly no stranger to the cut and thrust of coordinating shindigs. The driving force behind the annual beauty and fashion bash, Frockin’ Fabulous, one of her main responsibilities will be to head up the organisation of events to mark the club’s centenary.
“Our remit is to do everything we can to promote what has been one of the regions most recognisable sporting institutions over the past 100 years.”
“We will be working in conjunction with sitting PRO Laura Hillen to optimise the club’s engagement on social media, keeping followers informed of the latest news and events emanating from the Showgrounds, whilst also highlighting special offers on merchandise and both corporate and casual matchday packages throughout the season.”
“With sponsorship to be renewed throughout the incoming season and the possibility of someone coming on board to add their business name to Newry City AFC Youth Academy and what will always remain The Showgrounds, we will also be at the coalface in so far as driving new commercial opportunities for the club.”
“Liasing with local businesses will be the core of our responsibilities in the hope of striking up mutually beneficial partnerships.”
The link-up has been met with enthusiasm by City Chairman, Martin McLaughlin, who said Patricia and her team have “an enormous part” to play.
“As Newry City AFC move into our centenary season, we have ambitions to make our way back to the Irish Premiership at the first opportunity.”
“Having tasted life back at the top of the Irish game last season, we are in no doubt that it’s where a club of this stature, with such a rich history and fanatical support, belong.”
“As we progress on our journey, our capacity has increased accordingly and, to that end, we as a club have taken the decision to appoint Commerical Managers, as we look to lay a professional foundation and public face for ourselves, at board level.”
“It’s a pleasure to announce that Patricia has accepted our invitation to fill this position and become the newest member of our squad. She has a wealth of experience in public relations and marketing and will play an enormous part in securing our future as a senior club.”
“Naturally, we wish her and her team every success in the new role and look forward to the positive impact she will make”.
And the first-team manager echoed those sentiments, believing that Patricia’s input will help take Newry City to a higher plain.
“I’ve said it on numerous occasions”, said Mullen. “Our off field progress needs to catch up with that on the field.”
“The club have recognised this and bringing in someone with the expertise that Patricia brings can only be good for that progress. Her experience and knowledge in the area will help to take the club to a level of commercial capability which is badly needed.”
“There are numerous opprortunities for people to get on board at the club and I have every faith that Patricia will be successful in forging new links, both locally and throughout the province.”
* If anyone is interested in a sponsorship brochure or think that IADG could help bring your business to the next level? Contact us at www.iamdigitalgroup.com, via our social media channels or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org