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Miles Jacobson 'excited' with Watford's partnership with Football Manager
If you had asked 100 Watford fans which company they would most like to have as their club's shirt sponsor – if finance wasn’t a factor – then iconic computer game Football Manager would have been near the top of the list.
The Hornets’ new regime decided early on that they did not want the happy egg company as shirt sponsors and immediate set about agreeing a new deal.
In the club statement two weeks ago, Watford said they wanted to pursue “potentially lucrative shirt partnership opportunities” and while we understand the new agreement is not worth much more than the happy egg deal, the switch has been welcomed by supporters.
Football Manager, formerly Championship Manager, is one of the truely iconic computer games of the last 20 years and one of the men behind its success is a life-long Watford fan.
Miles Jacobson, who grew up in Watford, has been a season ticket holder for the majority of the last 28 years and played a huge role in the development of Championship Manager during the 90s.
He went from being a tester for Sports Interactive and a fan of the game to unofficial business advisor and then acting managing director in 1999, taking on the role permanently in 2001.
Championship Manager became Football Manager in 2004 after a split with publishers Eidos Interactive but it continued to grow, with Jacobson receiving an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to the gaming industry in 2011.
SEGA and the game’s creative studio Sports Interactive have been involved with Watford for several years as academy partners and sponsors of an end of season award and the scoreboard.
But the companies, who also sponsor AFC Wimbledon, were keen to reach football fans across the world and believe the extra press interest in Watford, due to the club’s takeover, may help expand the Football Manager brand in Europe.
Jacobson, who grew up in Carpenders Park between the ages of six and 18, said: “With the new deal, every time anyone in the UK or Europe sees a Watford shirt, they see our logo. So it’s no longer a local deal, but a national one with some international benefits too.
“Our partnership with AFC Wimbledon, which has been going for more than a decade, has been a great way for us to reach football fans, as well as a lot of fun for all of us to be involved with. We expect the same with Watford but with a larger audience.”
Jacobson, who is “only 40”, had spoken to Watford’s new regime a couple of days after the takeover about becoming more involved with the club but negotiations regarding sponsorship did not start until the day it was announced the happy egg shirt sponsorship was ending.
He said: “Obviously as a Watford fan, I’m very excited that we’re involved at this extended level and it’s one of the reasons we got involved with the club in the first place a few years ago, but it wasn’t the main reason. If the deal hadn’t made sense commercially, we wouldn’t have done it – I’m quite stingy like that.”
Jacobson, who is actively involved in several charities across the world, used to work in Past & Present Records in Watford and was involved in the music industry for a while before becoming involved with Sports Interactive.
He went to sixth form in St Albans and played for, and then managed, Hornets supporters’ team Watford Internet FC.
Like most sponsors, Jacobson has the option of corporate hospitality but he has stressed: “Despite our sponsorship deal, I’ll still be spending most of the home games sitting with my mates in my normal seat (in the Rookery), which I’ve had since the ground went all seater.”