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Which university logo is on your team’s shirt?

In the wake of the University of Bolton paying for naming rights for the Bolton Wanderers stadium, Paul Greatrix investigates other sports sponsorship deals in UK HE.
This article is more than 5 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

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?

13 responses to “Which university logo is on your team’s shirt?

  1. I know the University of Northampton has sponsored Northampton Town FC for a few years. I think that is continuing.

    Does this mean I can justify buying FIFA 19 to check the shirt sponsors for ‘research’?

  2. I recall that the University of East Anglia gave an honorary degree to Norwich City Football Club when it was in the premiership. It did not withdraw the degree after relegation. Unfortunately for UEA, because international students frequently have a slightly hazy grasp of UK geography, too few realised that UEA was in Norwich for the Canaries sojourn in the Premiership to have any real impact on recruitment.

  3. Thank you too to @PlashingVole for pointing out that the University of Wolverhampton is also the ‘official HE partner’ of West Brom

    This package means:
    “The University will receive LED and big screen advertising at The Hawthorns, joint social media promotions, promotion across the Club’s fast-growing digital media channels, a hospitality package for key matches and a West Bromwich Albion presence at University open days.”

  4. Obviously in Sheffield it is more than either VC’s life is worth to express any preference between United and Wednesday.

  5. Only 25% of young people in Portsmouth applied to university in 2018 compared to the 37% average for England. The University of Portsmouth is committed to increasing participation rates in higher education in our community where there is an emotional connection with Portsmouth FC. Through our partnership with the football club, our visibility at every match, collaborative outreach programmes, and integrated research projects, we can encourage young people to consider futures they might not have believed achievable in the past. As one of the leading universities for sports science in England sponsoring our local football club is a natural fit with marvellous opportunities for the players and our academics and students to work together.

  6. Given you are based in the East Midlands, strange that you missed De Montfort’s link with Leicester City which is perhaps the most significant in terms of football league tables!

  7. Macclesfield College – which does have HE provision – is a sponsor for Macclesfield Town FC, last years National League champions but currently propping up the very foot of the football league – but also owner of the record of never having lost a competitive penalty shoot out in its history

  8. I think that the University of Hertfordshire has a tie in with Spurs; and it certainly used to be the base for Saracens RFC ( about ten years ago).

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