JFF bags US$4.8-m kit contract with Romai Sportswear

Done Deal!

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sport Editor

Saturday, February 14, 2015

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AFTER weeks of talk making the rounds of an imminent partnership, the kit deal between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and Dubai-based Romai Sportswear is finally in the bag.

JFF President Captain Horace Burrell and vice-president and managing director of the relatively new sports apparel manufacturer, Khamis Mohammed Al Rumaithy, put pen to paper to formalise a four-year partnership that could be valued at over US$4.8 million (about $680 million).

The signing took place at the luxurious Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Friday, with Argentine football legend Diego Maradona in attendance.

This new kit deal would be the most lucrative in the federation's history, exceeding the last arrangement with Italian-based Kappa that was US$3.7 million (about $540 million) at today's exchange rate, and which covered the programme for five years.

"What I can tell you is that we have sewn up this deal and it will be worth about US$1.2 million per year. This is indeed an exciting time for Jamaica's football to secure a deal of this magnitude, as the nation's football is interestingly poised for great things around the corner," Burrell said from Dubai on Friday.

The local football boss said the contract signing was the culmination of 18 months of "vigorous and unwavering negotiations" with Romai, a member of the family-owned conglomerate Al Rumaithy Investment Group (RIG).

All 11 national teams -- male and female -- will be outfitted by Romai, a company inaugurated in 2012, the very year Kappa and the JFF signed a new three-year deal worth US$2 million.

Though Romai is new to the market as a brand, its parent company RIG boasts extensive experience and expertise in the sporting good industry, having claims of being part of the growth of various international sportswear brands such as Hummel, Le Coq Sportif and Erima.

In its growing portfolio, Romai has among its clients the Bahraini national football programme.

"We knew from day one that Romai would be a good fit for the national programme as it was a brand with stylish designs, a company on the cutting edge of modern corporate governance, has a strong passion for football and is part of a family with solid assets," Burrell told the Jamaica Observer by telephone.

It was said that Cedella Marley, the brand ambassador and benefactor of the Reggae Girlz, has worked and continues to work closely with Romai in developing the designs for Jamaica's range of playing gear and other clothing.

"She has done a tremendous job with her creative designs, and I can tell you that when these designs become public, they will satisfy the most discerning of fashion tastes. Jamaica will be the envy of many," Burrell outlined.

He was also pleased that, critical to the terms of the working agreement is that Romai has committed to a very active merchandising side to the deal, where replicas of the marquee Reggae Boyz clothing -- and that of the females as well -- will be available in online shops and walk-in stores across a global network.

"I am very happy with that aspect as that has been a weak area for us in the past," a pleased Burrell said.

Details of the new kit arrangements, plus other breaking news related to the programme, will be made at a press conference at the JFF offices on Tuesday.

Without a kit partner since Kappa and the JFF failed to reach a new agreement, Jamaican teams in competition have continued and will continue to wear the Italian company's branded uniforms.

Burrell disclosed that the new Romai kits will be available in time for the senior Boyz's historic participation in the Copa America in Chile June 11-July 4.

Meanwhile, Burrell said to have had Maradona, a close friend of Romai principal Khamis Mohammed Al Rumaithy, participating in the proceedings was special in many ways.

"It was a boost to have a high-profile figure like Maradona sitting in on the whole thing, and I was particularly moved when he spoke in glowing terms of Jamaica and Jamaica's football.

"That's not all, he told me that he would be ready to work with Jamaica's football in some capacity in the future, and he made it clear that he was not kidding," Burrell noted.

On the company's website, Romai claims to be the only Emirati sportswear company, which develops and manufactures its own range of sport products.

"Behind our design philosophy is the belief that speed and agility are the cornerstones of athletic performance. At Romai Sports, we see our products as empowerers of athletes... our creations are meticulously designed to offer the best in mobility and comfort," said a short bio on the website.

JFF General Secretary Raymond Grant and the federation's marketing director Garth Savoury were also in Dubai for the signing.

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