A few years back I highlighted a really interesting article by Malcolm Tight of Lancaster University which offers a comparison between the operation of the Premier and Football Leagues and universities and colleges in England and Wales.
It covers issues such as what the league tables actually measure, how performance is linked to rewards or penalties, what mechanisms are available for improving performance, and what similarities there are between the locations of more or less successful football clubs and universities. It really is a fascinating read.
But then there is UA92 and its partnership in Manchester – which draws together the worlds of business, football, education and local government – which is surely destined to climb the league in due course.
We also need to look at the decision by the University of Bolton to sponsor the home of Bolton Wanderers (criticised in Private Eye as an excuse for significant home-game hospitality opportunities) was one of those stories which initially seemed a tad surprising. But, as The Bolton News reported, there are five things you may not know about the deal:
1) The University of Bolton name will replace that of Italian sportswear brand Macron, which stuck a deal to rename the stadium in 2014.
2) Bolton Wanderers players are set to benefit from the deal through using modern sport science equipment at the university.
3) The University of Bolton is already the main sponsor of Manchester Giants to provide students real-life experience in supporting athletes and volunteering opportunities.
4) The rebrand is not the first tie-in between Wanderers and the University of Bolton. University branding could be seen on the players’ shorts last season.
5) The University of Bolton and Wanderers’ close association can be traced back to the very beginning. Buried beneath the old engineering block is the old grounds of Christ Church, where in 1874 the Rev Farral Wright and Thomas Ogden, the headmaster of the adjacent boys’ school, decided to form a football club.
This prompted thoughts about which universities sponsor football clubs, their strips or grounds or support other sporting teams. Thanks to everyone on Twitter who helped identify these.
Glyndwr University was possibly one of the first to go down this road by acquiring the ground where Wrexham play.
The other players here include:
The University of Portsmouth, which has just signed a three year shirt sponsorship deal with its local club.
Aston University, which has a partnership with Aston Villa.
Wolverhampton University has a sponsorship deal, including a named stand, at Walsall FC, where it has supported the Saddlers since 2017.
Bishop Grossteste University has just stopped sponsoring Lincoln city, but the University of Lincoln has a close involvement with the Imps.
The University of West London is backing the Bees at Brentford.
Swansea University is supporting Swansea City.
Stoke City have enjoyed sponsorship of a stand from Staffordshire University for many years.
Hull University is generously supporting Hull City through sponsoring their training strip.
I suspect there are more university football sponsorships out there but there are also some other HE sporting supporters.
Birmingham City University seems to be a key cricketing HE partner at Edgbaston.
Leeds Beckett University I recall had a much bigger sponsorship deal with several Leeds sports clubs some years ago when it was Leeds Metropolitan University – using the Carnegie brand – but now their only significant sponsorship deal appears to be Leeds Carnegie Rugby Union side.
Also on the rugby pitch Cardiff University has a sponsorship arrangement with Cardiff Blues Rugby.
It’s never been entirely clear to me what the benefits of such sponsorships are but there must be some. What other university sponsorships – football or other sports – do you know about?