A TIMBER and builders merchant has become the first company to enter a competition giving the chance to be Darlington FC’s next shirt sponsor.

Joseph Parr Limited, a Middlesbrough-based company, has signed up to Business Backing Darlington Club, a sponsorship and hospitality package launched by the Quakers last October.

The winning entrant in the competition will have its logo emblazoned on the front of the club’s shirts next season.

Former Darlington player and Middlesbrough fans’ favourite Craig Hignett will draw out the winning entry at the Quakers’ sportsmen’s dinner in March.

David Anderson, managing director of Joseph Parr, said: “The package they have put together is a no-lose situation for us. We would probably do most of the hospitality package there anyway, so the chance to be shirt sponsor as well is an excellent opportunity.”

The company has an executive box at the ground.

Mr Anderson added: “At the end of the day, we are doing this is to support the club. We want more people to also get involved.

“We are a Middlesbrough company but that doesn’t matter because we are all in the North-East. The facilities are second to none and the hospitality superb. I would encourage anyone to get on board.”

Entering the business club competition also entitles it to the following benefits:

● A perimeter advertising board at The Northern Echo Darlington Arena for the 2010- 11 season;

● A full match sponsorship package, including a full-page matchday programme advert next season;

● A company logo listed in every matchday programme as part of the Business Backing Darlington Club;

● A table of ten at the club’s sportsmen’s dinner;

● A 20 per cent discount on all other conference and banqueting bookings made throughout the 2010-11 season.

Darlington’s general manager, Phil Preston, said: “We’re delighted Joseph Parr has come on board.

“This is something we’ve never offered before and we believe it opens the availability of the shirt sponsorship to all ranges of businesses and gives a unique chance most companies can’t afford to miss.

“A shirt sponsorship deal is a brilliant way to increase brand awareness, but it’s probably something a lot of firms look at and think it’s out of their reach.”

Interested companies or individual business people can call Mr Preston on 01325- 387000, or email phil.