Published: 14:10, 06 May 2018
| Updated: 14:15, 06 May 2018
Gillingham FC's sponsorship deal with Medway Council has been called ‘inappropriate’ by the opposition Labour group.
Citing cuts to other services as the reason for their shock, the party will be requesting urgent answers from the Tory-run council about the details of the deal.
This is despite both the club and the council confirming the sponsorship is not a financial one and will be no burden on the taxpayer.
Labour leader Cllr Vince Maple said: “This shirt sponsorship deal is completely inappropriate in this time of huge cuts in local government funding.
“There is quite a difference between no burden and no cost to the taxpayer.
“The cost of letting the team use the facilities for free could lead to loss of revenue.
“We will continue to ask questions about this deal which seems to be somewhat shrouded in secrecy.
“When the Conservative-run Medway Council are closing Sure Start children’s centres, imposing huge parking charge rises on residents and closing local leisure facilities, people have to ask themselves the question - have the Medway Tories got the right priorities?
“In my view the answer is absolutely not."
The partnership was revealed at the Gills' player of the year awards last night at Priestfield.
When making the announcement, council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “When talking to Paul (Scally) and establishing this deal it was obvious what the club does for Medway is underrated.
“We’re really pleased to be the main sponsor.”
The deal has sparked rumours, however, that it was somehow linked to Gills' plans for a new stadium.
But speaking this morning, Cllr Jarrett said: "No, good lord, no."
He reiterated there was no more to the deal than stated and said "not a penny has changed hands".
"There's a good synergy between what the club and council are doing in terms of sport in the community," he added.
Medway Council’s logo will be on the 2018/19 kits and it will be donated tickets to give to people supported by its services.
In return, the youth, ladies and teams for people with disabilities will be able to train at some of the council’s parks and recreation grounds.
Chairman of Gillingham Football Club, Paul Scally, said: “It is with great enthusiasm and pride that we welcome Medway Council as the club’s main sponsor for the coming season.
“This further relationship with Medway Council fits extremely well for all parties and in the spirit of cooperation I believe our local people, sponsors and supporters will witness even more initiatives of mutual benefit in the year ahead.”