Footballers Swap Football Pitch For Sales Pitch

On Tuesday four footballers swapped their football kit for a Big Issue vendor tabard this week as they took to the streets of Winchester to sell the special edition Saints magazine to launch the new partnership between Southampton FC and The Big Issue Group.

Nathan Redmond, Oriol Romeu, Manolo Gabbiadini and Florin Gardos took up a different kind of pitch in Winchester town centre this week to try their hand at selling the magazine alongside local vendors Mark Morgan, Lee Barnes, Gary Jackson and Kev Collick.

The special edition magazine is on sale this week across Southampton and the surrounding area this week as well as being the official match-day programme at Southmpton FC’s first game of the season, against Swansea City this Saturday 12th August. On match-day 14 vendors will be selling in and around the stadium and for those who live outside of this area it is also available to buy from The Big Issue Shop.

Saints and England midfielder Nathan Redmond, said: “I could see how hard these guys have to work, they’re out in all weather. It’s not easy and I have huge respect for them. It was great to meet the guys, and be involved in a partnership where two great organisations like Southampton FC and the Big Issue can achieve so much together.”

Big Issue vendor Lee with Southampton and England star Nathan Redmond.

“It’s been amazing to meet the players, and the day has been full of lots of handshakes and smiles,” beamed Big Issue vendor Lee Barnes. “I have never sold as many Big Issues in such a short period of time. It’s been absolutely class. What we’ve done today has brought a lot of focus to the Big Issue and hopefully that focus will carry on throughout the partnership.

I am excited to be selling on match day this Saturday and having met some of the players, it means even more to me now. It was great to see some of our players and the vendors working together so well today, and I look forward to having the vendors join our team on a more permanent basis in the future.”

Premier League star and Saints striker Oriol Romeu with vendor Mark Morgan.

Big Issue seller Mark Morgan said: “I enjoyed it today. It was nerve-wracking but I’m glad I did it. The players made me feel at ease and that was a big part of it for me. The public loved it and explaining to them what it all means, about the partnership… it seemed to come across well. I’m looking forward to match day. It’s going to be a one-off experience, something I have never done before.”

Vendor Kev Collick with Saints striker Manolo Gabbiadini.

Fellow vendor Kev Collick added: “It been amazing. It’s been great to have professional football players come and join us selling today. A lot of people don’t realise what we need to do to sell copies and it’s been great to open people’s eyes to what it takes and to raise awareness of the Big Issue in the local area.”

Greg Baker, Head of Saints Foundation and Community Partnerships at Southampton Football Club, said: ”We’re incredibly proud to partner with The Big Issue. The launch of a special edition magazine, which is on sale throughout the week and at Southampton’s Premier League match against Swansea City, marks just the start of our relationship, which will also see existing vendors undertake an employability programme, delivered by Saints Foundation, with the end goal of them gaining suitable and long-term employment at Southampton FC.”