Blyth Spartans have insisted they are not endorsing the oppressive regime in North Korea after allowing a firm promoting trips to the country to advertise at their Croft Park home.
The National League North club found themselves in the spotlight after photographs of an advertising hoarding for a firm called Visit North Korea were shared on social media.
However, commercial director Mark Scott, who revealed in the club’s match programme that he had set up the deal with Visit North Korea’s Tom Fowdy, a Chinese Studies graduate from Sunderland, insisted the move has nothing to do with the country’s politics.
He said: “We have had a little bit of, not abuse, but a few people making comments. We are promoting a business offering trips to North Korea, we are not endorsing the North Korea regime.
“But as I have said to a few people, if they’re wanting to promote the country and wanting people to visit, surely that’s a good thing?”
Scott admitted that the deal is the most unusual he has been involved in, and that the contact had come out of the blue.
He said: “We were on the way back from Nuneaton Borough on the team bus when I got an email asking about our prices and at that point, I didn’t know where it was from and who they were.
“Usually our advertisers are from a 10-mile radius, the local plumbers and electricians amongst a few bigger businesses.
“Then the guy told me it was all about promoting trips to North Korea and after we had talked about it, there was no legitimate reason to turn it down.”
Mr Fowdy was quoted in the programme article admitting that the link could prove controversial.
In it, he said: “I understand it is unusual and also slightly controversial, but nevertheless I believe the publicity will be of benefit to both parties.”