Published: 06:00, 13 May 2021
Faversham Town have clinched the biggest sponsorship deal in their history.
Former player Gary Smart has returned to the club as their main sponsor and was back at Salters Lane for the first time in 15 years last week to seal the deal.
Mr Smart was born in Faversham and played for the club as a junior before progressing to the first team where he was part of the 1990 Kent League title-winning squad.
He left the town and the club behind as he developed his own business, Smart Office Solutions. The company name will be on the newly-designed shirts for the 2021/22 season.
A three-year partnership has been agreed and although no financial figures have been revealed, the club have confirmed it’s their biggest ever.
The 50-year-old spoke about his passion for Faversham when he returned to the club last Thursday.
Mr Smart said: “I have such an affiliation for the town and the club - football is my thing, it’s my passion and I want to put something back in.
“It’s a bit of nostalgia for me as well, I may have been away but my heart has always been in this club. I want to be amongst it and feel like I can make a difference.
“I have had other clubs ask me to come in and invest but this is where my heart is, there is no other club in Kent I wanted to sponsor. I have a lot of memories at the club, out on the pitch and I remember the open top tour when we won the league. I am looking forward to coming back and watching football here.”
He is a former team-mate of current goalkeeper coach Scott Davenport and will be keen to reconnect with many of his old associates, including former chairman Ray Leader.
It was Faversham commercial director Marc Leader - Ray’s son - who convinced Mr Smart to invest in his hometown club. A chat about shirt sponsorship developed into a much bigger deal. The money will be invested across the board at the club, from the youth team, the club’s facilities and the first team.
Paul Bennett, the club chairman and a long-term shirt sponsor, said: “It is great that Gary has come in and I can pass the baton over with the shirt sponsorship. This is a fantastic opportunity for the club to develop and it’s great that we have found someone that isn’t just a business man, he’s got history here.”
Marc Leader was keen to thank the current chairman Mr Bennett - whose position remains unchanged - for his help over the years having been a long-term kit sponsor.
The Lilywhites will start their new league season on Saturday, August 14.