Chesham-based FC Romania of the Isthmian League South Central Division have this week signed a sponsorship deal with civil engineering company SF Stefan which will be worth £750,000 across the next five seasons.
It comes just a week after the club had confirmed they were experiencing serious difficulties because of the impact of COVID-19, which had resulted in a complete loss of income and sponsorship. Local businessman and entrepreneur Stefan Voloseniuc is currently visiting family at home in Romania but saw the social media announcement by the club's owner and manager Ionuţ Vintilă last Thursday and immediately called him to see if he could help.
Voloseniuc explains: "Like many Romanians in the UK, I was aware of the club and knew that it would be dreadful for the team and their local players and supporters if they had been forced to close because of a situation that is completely out of their control. When I spoke with Ionuţ, I was deeply impressed to hear how he has dedicated his life to FC Romania and providing a chance for so many Romanians and others to play football at a very competitive level in England.
"I managed to convince him not to give up on his amazing club and look forward to our company working with him and his team to help take his brilliant project forward. I am enormously happy that by sponsoring FC Romania for the next five seasons, we are able to put something back into the Romanian community, especially as SF Stefan was founded and grew out of the North London area where so many of the Romanian diaspora now live."
Ionuţ Vintilă, who founded the team in 2006 and has been their manager for the past 14 seasons, is astonished that the future of his club has been secured in such a short space of time.
He said: "This is better than anything I could have possibly imagined. It was a heartbreaking position to be in after all we have achieved during the past 14 years, but a few days after I spoke with Stefan last Thursday, the deal was concluded.
"I really feel that God has brought us the right man at the right time to support our club and our great community. Stefan is one of the best Romanians that I have met since I came to the UK and I feel blessed that we both share a love and dedication for our community, and I’m confident that with having SF Stefan as our sponsors we will build together a great club."
The team was originally made up mainly of Romanian immigrants who had moved to the UK and wanted to play Sunday League football, but as the club have developed and moved up the leagues, they now have a much wider pool of players and supporters. Romanian-born Voloseniuc moved to the UK in 2007 to work as a labourer before starting his own business SF Stefan, which is now one of the largest and most successful civil engineering companies in London and the South East.
"I had the support of many Romanians in London when I first created and began to build SF Stefan so it is very good to now be able to support others," he added. "Our company motto is 'We Build To Last', so it seems a very good and natural fit that we should work with Ionuţ and his team at FC Romania, as they have shown by their results and reputation that they are also built to last and deserve to have a long and successful future.
"A phrase I was taught long ago is that we can all do small things but with a great love, and that together, we can do something beautiful, and that has been the case this week."