WBT Launches New Event For Sky Sports
The world's top eight professional bowlers will compete in a new World Bowls Tour indoor event this summer which will be televised over seven nights by Sky Sports and sponsored by Co-operative Funeralcare.
The Co-operative Funeralcare World Matchplay Championship will be staged at the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield from 21-22 June, followed by the Sky Sports TV coverage in July.
The star-studded field will be led by Australian world number one David Gourlay, and will include Englishmen Greg Harlow, the world No2 and Engage International Open champion, and former world champions Andy Thomson and Mervyn King; Scotsmen Paul Foster and the record four-times world champion Alex Marshall; and Welshmen Jason Greenslade and Robert Weale.
WBT Chief Executive Nigel Oldfield said: "We are delighted to expand the World Bowls Tour season in this way and especially pleased to attract such comprehensive TV coverage from Sky Sports for the first time.
"We welcome Co-operative Funeralcare to our expanding portfolio of sponsors and look forward to working closely with the organisation's management team to maximise the sponsorship opportunities.
"I am confident this event will see the start of a number of additional new tournaments on the WBT tour in the near future - and reinforce the WBT as the worldwide leader in televised bowls competitions," added Oldfield.
Lorinda Sheasby, Head of Marketing at Co-operative Funeralcare, added: "The sponsorship of a major national sporting event is an exciting first for us. Our support for this new event will enable us to communicate our brand and its values to an important audience and we are looking forward to working closely with the World Bowls Tour to make the Co-operative Funeralcare World Matchplay a success."
Alex Marshall, the Scot who followed last year's Pairs gold medal success in the Commonwealth Games in Australia by making history in January when he became the first player to win the World Indoor Bowls title for a fourth time, was delighted to hear the news of the Co-operative Funeralcare World Matchplay Championship: "It's fantastic to have a new event on the World Bowls Tour, especially one which will get such great TV coverage on Sky and help enhance our chances of attracting even more sponsors.
"What a first round it will be - featuring the world's top eight players," added the 40-year-old from East Lothian who was awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours. "Any one of the players could win the title."
Co-operative Funeralcare, the UK's leading funeral director, is celebrating its first national sponsorship in sport. Part of the Co-operative Group - a £7 billion sales business which also operates food stores, pharmacies, a major travel retailer, the Co-operative Bank and Co-operative Insurance - the organisation has more than 600 funeral homes nationwide.
Thanks to the Co-operative Funeralcare sponsorship, entry to Ponds Forge will be free - though tickets need to be acquired via the box office on 0114-223 3400.