AFTER announcing the end of the longest running title sponsorship in British football with Ryman last weekend, Isthmian League chairman Nick Robinson was always expecting a busier than normal week ahead.
With new sponsors expected to be announced any day now, he perhaps thought it would be wall-to-wall meetings and negotiations in nice warm offices. He was in for a rather chilly surprise!
Despite still busying himself with matters of sponsorship, the league chairman swapped his pen for a flag and lent a hand to two member clubs in another way.
For the second time in under a year the qualified football and rugby referee was forced to step in as an emergency official at Great Wakering Rovers, running the line for 70 minutes in the 5-0 win for Dereham Town at Burroughs Park last Saturday.
When the call went out for an experienced official after a linesman picked up an injury early in the first half, Robinson didn’t think twice about volunteering.
The Ryman chief is getting used to trading his suit at the last minute for an emergency loan of kit. In February last year, he stepped in to run the line at Hastings United when referee John Pike collapsed during their 3-3 draw with Corinthian-Casuals in Ryman South.
Robinson says the league hoped to be in a position to name their new sponsor sooner rather than later after it was confirmed the stationer and the league would be going their separate ways after 20 years.
“It is a sad day,” said the chairman last weekend. “But it is one which we knew would come sooner or later. We are very proud of the work we have done with Ryman and other companies in the Theo Paphitis Retail Group.
“Everyone associated with the sponsorship has been so supportive and the companies have been wonderful to work with over the last 20 years. We have built up great friendships and I know these will not be lost in the future.”