Leicester Tigers have sold the naming rights to their Welford Road home in a bid to claw back some of the financial damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and help the club survive.
Mattioli Woods, which has been one of Tigers’ official partners since 2016, have agreed a new, five-year contract that will see the stadium rebranded as Mattioli Woods Welford Road until the end of the 2024-25 season at least.
Pitch-side dugouts and the outside of the venue, which holds 25,849 spectators and has been home to Leicester since 1892, will carry the wealth management firm’s branding. Mattioli Woods will also retain shirt sponsorship and naming rights of the East Stand.
At the start of this month, Leicester revealed that coronavirus regulations, bringing a schedule of matches being played without supporters, had left them facing a £6million loss of income. Between March and September, they made 31 members of staff redundant.
In a statement released on Monday, Tigers chief executive Andrea Pinchen suggested that the initiative, and subsequent cash-boost, could be critical for the club’s prospects of surviving the COVID-19 crisis.
“Welford Road is an icon of world rugby as the home of Leicester Tigers and a venue that has helped to put Leicester on the sporting map,” she said.
“In these uncertain times, the club has had to look at new ways to provide value for supporters and partners in a way that can generate revenue and ensure that there is a club for fans to come back to.
“We understand it is a difficult time for every business at the moment, with sacrifices being made along the way, but the good times will return and I hope that this move symbolises the commitment of two Leicester businesses working through this together.”
Leicester’s decision to keep ‘Welford Road’ alongside the name of Mattioli Woods has been taken in an attempt to appease the club’s rich tradition. In that respect, it mirrors the Scottish Rugby Union’s renaming of Murrayfield to ‘BT Sport Murrayfield’ in 2014. The entirety of that deal was reportedly worth around £2om to the SRU.
“Sport breaks down barriers,” said Ian Mattioli, the Leicester-born chief executive of Mattioli Woods. “It has the potential to reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing, and in these very testing times we are living in, it is important that families are still able to watch their beloved team and look forward to eventually being back in the stands.”