YORK City’s players will receive regular heart monitoring next season from the club’s new shirt sponsors Benenden Healthcare.
Free health checks will be provided for Minstermen chief Gary Mills and his players thanks to the partnership with the Holgate Park Drive-based society, which City chairman Jason McGill also revealed is the most lucrative brokered by the club during his nine years as a board member.
The importance of heart screening for footballers was higlighted graphically last season when Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane, where he was treated on the pitch before making a full recovery in hospital.
As a result, Benenden are keen to perform frequent tests on the City squad as part of their one-year deal with the newly-promoted League Two club, which they hope will lead to a longer-term association.
Representatives from Benenden, who provide competitively-priced health-care for almost one million people nationwide as a not-for-profit group, attended the launch of the Minstermen’s new home and away kits for 2012/13 and marketing and strategy director Marc Bell believes the sponsorship agreement will prove mutually beneficial.
He said: “Our sponsorship of York City will mean we reach a big audience. Benenden is well known in health-care circles but the club going into the Football League will mean our name is on the television and in newspapers.
“I am hoping we can become associated with York City’s success and very importantly put something into the club. We will be providing nurses and checking people’s cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as giving the players and club officials free health checks.
"We also want to reach fans because it’s not just about the staff at Bootham Crescent. We want to raise awareness of what we do and the importance of health-care so it’s a chance for two local organisations to come together and I believe we will be a great fit because the links between sport, a healthy lifestyle and well-being are strong.”
Bell, a Doncaster-based Hull City fan, also added the Minstermen were the obvious choice when the UK’s longest-established mutual health-care society opted to venture into the world of corporate sport.
“We are a national company who have been based in York for a while so York City are our local club,” he explained. “We do a lot of work in the community. When the opportunity came to sponsor the club, we grabbed it with both hands.
“It’s a one-year contract initially but we want the partnership to become a long-term one. We intend to be with York City for years.”
City chairman McGill revealed how the deal had been concluded prior to the club clinching promotion with Benenden agreeing to increase their cash injection after last month’s play-off final triumph over Luton Town secured a return to the Football League.
He is also hoping the two businesses can help each other and work closely together in the community, saying: “This is a true partnership and we want that to become long-term.
“It’s an opportunity for Benenden to get their name and brand recognised nationally but there will also be the opportunity for us to perform regular heart scans on players and access first-rate medical equipment.
“Benenden have an ethos that runs through their business and, as a consequence, they were attracted by the work our community department do in terms of promoting healthy eating and well-being.
“We have grown from working with five schools to more than 100 in the area and we can take that message into classrooms with Benenden now. We are reaching about 15,000 pupils now and our community programme can also get bigger with the move to a new stadium.”