YLD named sponsor of Reading FC Women

25 July 2019 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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2019 has proven to be a watershed moment for women’s football in England, with a high-profile World Cup campaign and the domestic league reportedly on the brink of a deal with the Premier League. Amid this ever enhancing profile, Reading FC has announced its women’s team will be sponsored by software engineering consultancy YLD in the upcoming season.

Software engineering consultancy YLD has become a first-ever principal partner to Reading FC Women’s team, introducing a new stand-alone sponsor for Kelly Chambers’ side this season. The news represents the first commercial partnership deal in the history of Reading FC Women.

Head of Sales and Partnerships at Reading Football Club, Tim Kilpatrick, said, “YLD is a vibrant company at the cutting-edge of their industry and their support fits perfectly with a Reading FC Women side who will be striving for even more success in the top tier of the women’s game this season. Together, we hope we can inspire even greater interest and participation in women’s football, both locally and nationally.”

Reading FC has been in the WSL since 2015, when the team won promotion from the WSL2 as champions, while last season the club finished fifth in the WSL. Traditionally, the team has shared a sponsor with the men’s team – which remains energy drink Carabao – so the move to have an individual shirt partner further demonstrates the growing profile and perceived value of the women’s team. The sponsorship deal between the digital consultancy and the football club is for two seasons.

YLD named sponsor of Reading FC Women

Speaking on the decision, YLD Chief Executive Nuno Job commented, “At YLD, we proactively champion diversity and inclusivity within the workplace. The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe… Supporting gender and genetic diversity in STEM is among our core values which encouraged us to sponsor an inspiring group of world-class athletes like Reading FC Women. The success of the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and the growing popularity of the FAWSL… overtly demonstrates how fast women’s football is evolving and we are delighted to… play an active part in that evolution.”

Changing the playing field 

Following decades of neglect and animosity, women’s football in England finally seems to be breaking through into the ‘mainstream’. Thanks to a fifty-year nationwide ban initiated by the Football Association between 1921 and 1971, even on football’s home turf, the female branch of the beautiful game has struggled to capture the imagination of the public in the way it did in the early 1920s, when one match could pull in over 50,000 spectators.

Since the inaugural Women’s Super League (WSL) in 2011, however, the competition has proved to be a game-changer in England. The league has steadily been growing in stature and drawing larger crowds, leading to it becoming a fully professional league for the first time in the 2018-19 season, which saw eleven teams compete for the title. As the number of teams involved in the top competition of English women’s football continues to expand, so too does the level of exposure the game achieves across the country, and indeed the world.

This presents an increasingly tantalising opportunity for sponsors, who now see the WSL as an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of what could prove to be a global footballing brand. This led to Continental being replaced as the chief sponsor of the WSL by Barclays with effect from the 2019-20 season. The record, multimillion pound commitment represents the largest such deal in WSL history, and shows that Barclays now sees women’s football as a potential means to engage with customers, as it has seen fit to back the top table of both the women’s and men’s games.

At the same time, with the Football Association supposedly edging toward an agreement that would see the Premier League – the private entity which owns the highest league of men’s football in England – take charge of the WSL, the potential exposure for sponsors buying in now is set to grow substantially for some time to come. As a result, firms are now looking for opportunities to back teams in the WSL, strengthening the league financially, and allowing its players to kick on to reach new heights.