Gold Coast Titans sponsor blasted after walking away
THE Gold Coast Titans have been dealt a cruel blow with a major sponsor reportedly parting ways with the club.
National construction and event hire giant TFH is ready to tear up its six-figure deal with the club, according to The Courier Mail, after star forward Ryan James' awkward Welcome to Country gaffe at the NRL grand final.
James, an indigenous player, was invited to deliver the speech pre-game and all was going well until he forgot his words.
"As a game we stand together, side-by-side … I'm lost," James said.
The prop received plenty of support from the crowd with cheers, while players from both Canberra and the Sydney Roosters could be seen smiling.
Love Ryan James honesty. ‘I’m lost’. We all know how you feel mate. We all been there. #NRLGF— Dave Hughes (@DHughesy) October 6, 2019
But the Titans' major sponsor saw it differently, labelling the blunder "embarrassing" and "offensive".
"The embarrassing performance of Ryan James in his speech last weekend was offensive and weighed heavily on this decision," TFH director Brett Thomas reportedly wrote in a letter to the club.
The company and NRL side have been linked since 2012 but their partnership has been ended with the sponsor also blaming poor on-field efforts.
TFH's decision to throw James under the bus over his momentary brain fade wasn't received well.
"If this is the real reason this is a disgrace," Fox Sports' Dan Ginnane tweeted.
I find it astonishing that TFH have used #RyanJames as a get out of their contract. It’s embarrassing to the company that they would be so weak to pin this on a young man who made a mistake on the biggest stage. Don’t worry bra we stand with you. #standwithRYANJAMES— Jamie Soward (@sowwowofficial6) October 15, 2019
"What a s*** cop-out from TFH," added Fox Sports' Mark Gottlieb. "Ryan James is one of the best role models in rugby league who made an honest mistake. He's one of the game's good guys."
Inside Sport magazine editor James Smith tweeted: "Really harsh, this. All that happened was we laughed because it wasn't us, and then we all got on with our lives. And now this? This guy is a terrific ambassador for our game. Lovely fellah too."
Nine news sports reporter Michael Atkinson labelled the decision "weak", and AAP reporter Scott Bailey wrote "the only embarrassment in all of this is the sponsor".
Sydney Morning Herald sports writer Phil Lutton added: "You would go a long way to find a shitter excuse than this for a company to get out of a sponsorship. Everyone felt for Ryan James apart from TFH apparently."
Ryan James is a proud indigenous man and calling it ‘embarrassing’ is misinformed. He had a moment in front of 80,000 people. The management of @TFHHire should be genuinely be ashamed of themselves for this bullying behaviour.— Joshua Wells (@joshuawells93) October 15, 2019
"This seems to be going real good for the sponsor," wrote AAP's Steve Zemek. "If there was a Dally M for good blokes, Ryan James would win."
AAP's Oliver Caffrey: "Someone makes a honest, human mistake and you throw them under the bus to justify terminating a club sponsorship?"
Nine's Michael Atkinson: "Reckon James, a proud indigenous person, deliberately forgot the words to embarrass not only himself but his indigenous brothers & sisters (if they even were, which I doubt most were)?! This is a pathetic excuse from a corporation as big as TFH."
That is farcical overreaction to an honest mistake. How could you not feel for him in that moment.— Ben Horne (@BenHorne8) October 15, 2019