Shinty sponsors give backing to ‘phantom’ cup final

From left: Keith Loades, Camanachd Association President; Michael Russell, Newtonmore Captain (Current Camanachd Cup Holders); George Fraser, CEO of Tulloch Homes.

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Although the pandemic means shinty’s Blue Riband event, the
Camanachd Cup Final, will not be played as scheduled on September 19, sponsors Tulloch Homes have offered significant support to the game’s governing body.

The Inverness-based company is to donate their sponsorship fee despite the competition not being played due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tulloch Homes has missed out on the marketing opportunity via live BBC TV coverage of the semi finals and finals. But George Fraser, chief executive of the Highlands’ largest housebuilder, revealed: ‘We want to show our support for the sport, and the Camanachd Association, at an extremely difficult time.

‘It’s tough for the Association’s budget with such reduced income, so I spoke to our chairman Tom Allison, who is also a director of Celtic FC, and he gave the go-ahead to finance a competition which hasn’t happened.

‘We’ve had reduced income ourselves, only reopening two months ago, but feel it is important to stand by shinty. We now look forward to sponsoring the 125th anniversary Camanachd Cup final at Kingussie in a year’s time and for the following two seasons.’

‘Camanachd Association president Keith Loades stressed the body’s gratitude.

‘It’s a hugely valuable financial and morale boost after such a terrible year,’ he said.

‘Tulloch’s decision will be widely appreciated throughout the shinty strongholds. It proves they are a true friend of the game and the funding will help us deliver our programme of support to clubs going forward.

‘George Fraser was one of the most successful shinty players, and an old opponent of mine, which makes this backing all the more satisfying. It helps underpin the game’s future.’

Newtonmore captain Michael Russell commented: ‘It’s an amazing gesture
by Tulloch Homes – no one would have grudged if if they said they wouldn’t pay for a tournament which didn’t happen.’

Newtonmore equalled their club record last year by winning the trophy for the fourth consecutive season, and Russell added: ‘I’m sure the clubs, the Association and the fans will be delighted at the valuable commitment being shown by Tulloch.

‘I’m very pleased that Kingussie, after all their organisation for this month’s final proved in vain, will be next year’s venue.’

Mr Fraser praised the successful partnership between Tulloch Homes and the Association in the firm’s sponsorship of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 finals. He also made special mention of the Association’s hard-working executive team, led by chief executive Derek Keir.

This year is the 95th anniversary of Highland-born Tulloch Homes. George Fraser has eight Camanachd Cup winners medals, including captaining
Newtonmore to victory over Kyles Athletic in the 1975 final.