Sporting sides unveil new partnership deals with financial specialists

The Together stand branding

Two of the region’s sporting stalwarts have unveiled commercial deals with business partners.

Cheadle-based specialist lender Together has made its first signing of a UK football club by becoming an official partner of Stockport County.

Meanwhile, rugby union side Sale Sharks has tied up a new commercial partnership with peer-to-peer business lending platform, Huddle Capital.

The move by Together, which has a loan book of £42bn, creates a partnership that will run throughout the 2020/21 season.

As part of the agreement, the south stand at County’s Edgeley Park ground has been renamed the Together Family Stand and carries the lender’s distinctive logo and branding. The County mascot, Vernon the Bear, will also have his shirt sponsored by the specialist lender.

The new partnership also includes the creation of a schools initiative, ‘County Together’, which will deliver a roadshow educating primary school children on topics including healthy eating, regular exercise and the importance of good behaviour.

All children will receive a full-colour magazine that reinforces positive behaviour and a free family ticket to a home fixture. The roadshow will start once COVID restrictions are lifted.

Jonathan Vaughan, chief executive of Vanarama National League team Stockport County, said: “Together is a great partner to have on board, not only as large local employer but as an organisation which shares the club’s values in education, and promoting healthy lifestyles and responsible behaviour.

“We are extremely excited about starting the ‘County Together’ schools initiative and look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

Marc Goldberg, commercial CEO at Together, described Stockport County as “a club at the heart of the community.”

He said: “As a Stockport-based lender we’re delighted to be named as the official financial partner of our home town club. A key reason for us to be involved in this sponsorship was its commitment to nurturing the health and development of young people in our region through their fantastic community projects.”

Pete Ball, the lender’s personal finance CEO, said he was impressed with the club’s vision to preserve its long-standing values and identity: “It’s important to instil in young people from all walks of life important values such as dedication, commitment and team work, and that is what Stockport County does through its community outreach work.

“We’re really looking forward to offering our support to the club – both on and off the pitch – and wish the team well for the season.”

Premiership Rugby Cup winners Sale Sharks said Huddle, which supports the growth of UK SMEs with business loans, will become the club’s official training kit sponsor ahead of the 2020/21 season, which is due to kick off towards the end of November.

As part of the three-year deal, the Huddle brand will also feature as a sleeve sponsor on the club’s new home and away strips, as well as taking on exclusive sponsorship of the South stand at the club’s home ground, the AJ Bell Stadium.

The move is part of a national drive by Huddle to raise awareness of its business and peer-to-peer finance, which brings together lenders and borrowers through an online platform.

Sale Sharks will also work with Huddle on educating players, staff and the Community Trust around the benefits of peer-to-peer investment and the increased interest in social lending.

Sharks player Marland Yarde in the new kit

Club commercial director, Mark Cueto, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Huddle Capital as one of our new commercial partners for the 2021 season.

“Huddle are doing great things in terms of providing more access to the peer-to-peer lending and investment market, and educating firms and individuals on the benefits. They’re a fast-growing business and join us at an exciting time for the company with big ambitions for the future.

“It’s great to see that next season is already shaping up to be a strong one for us in terms of the commercial backing we’ve received from sponsors – both new and renewed support from existing partners – and we look forward to building a really solid relationship with the team at Huddle moving into the new season.”

Emily Rackham, at Huddle Capital, said: “We’re really excited to be working alongside a top Premiership Rugby side like Sale Sharks. The club works alongside some really high-profile brands and is full of players with worldwide appeal, so we’re thrilled to be joining.

“Huddle was set up to provide more access to peer-to-peer lending for businesses and individuals, but also to increase awareness that this option exists as a very credible alternative more traditional methods of borrowing or investing.

“We’ve achieved some fantastic growth recently and we’re really keen to increase this further through the power of the Sale Sharks brand and network of partners.”