The Maitland Pickers are here to stay after signing a long-term club sponsorship with Club Maitland City.
The minimum 30-year-deal, worth tens of thousands of dollars annually, will guarantee the club’s long-term future and came with the blessing of the Maitland Leagues Club, the Pickers’ traditional backer.
“The Pickers have survived from year to year, but they don’t have to worry about that any more,” Club Maitland City sports and sponsorship manager DJ Dilworth said.
“Maitland is the Pickers. Their future is secure now and they have the backing to be a top three side for many years to come.”
The deal received a ringing endorsement from the Pickers committee after a presentation by Dilworth and Maitland Pickers president Frank Lawler on Monday night.
“The football club committee were all over the moon that the Pickers are secure,” Dilworth said.
“There was a round of applause,” Lawler added. “We’ve lived from year to year and the leagues club have done a tremendous job to honour their grant in difficult circumstances.
“We probably knew it was coming to an end one day. We just didn’t realise that a club like Club Maitland City would step up and back us not for just one year but our long-term future which is fantastic.”
Dilworth said he knew action was needed after reading the Maitland Mercury’s article with long-time Pickers supporter Ray Chipperfield who started a fighting fund and called on the Maitland community to get on board to save the Pickers.
“I’ve only been here four years, but it was obvious straight way the Maitland Pickers were as an institution up here,” he said. “When I read the Mercury article with Ray Chipperfield I knew we had to help in some way.
“Everyone was just straight behind it, the board voted unanimously to see what we could do to help this year.
"It’s something that is still being negotiated but the plan is, with the united support of the Club Maitland City board, that we move forward with the Pickers for the future and keep rugby league going in Maitland.”
Lawler said Club Maitland City would be the major sponsor of the club and that the Burton Automotive Group would the first grade sponsor for 2018.
“We’ve got Burton Automotive as our first grade sponsor this year. They will be on the front of the first grade jumper and Maitland City will take the place of where we had the leagues club,” he said.
“The sponsorship extends from the first grade through to the Ladies League Tag team and will also enable us to play a greater role in developing our junior aligned teams right through from Dungog to Woodberry, Beresfield to Greta.”
Club Maitland City will match the league’s club grant this year and is expected to substantially increase it in coming years.
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