BOLTON Wanderers have pulled out of their controversial sponsorship deal with pay day loan company QuickQuid.
In a statement, the football club said it had “underestimated the adverse reaction” to the announcement.
Chairman Phil Gartside said: “We have worked for years to build trust and participation with the community through our community trust, education programmes, and other initiatives that are currently underway in partnership with local and national government.
“We don’t want our commercial relationships to come between us and our community, and neither does QuickQuid.”
Wanderers’ new sponsor will be Fibrlec, a technology partner with the University of Bolton.
FibrLec is a new Bolton-based sustainable energy company that specialises in commercialising the university’s innovative smart materials.
Its logo, incorporating the university logo, will feature on the club’s new match kit and training wear for the next two years.
Cllr Christopher Peacock, who launched a petition to get the club to reconsider following the announcement, which was revealed last Wednesday, said today: “I’m absolutely delighted with the news.
“I think first and foremost it’s fantastic that Bolton Wanderers have taken this proactive step and they deserve credit.”
As reported in The Bolton News, the announcement caused outcry across Bolton, with opponents claiming it was not in keeping with the Whites’ image as a community-based “family club”.
The move also led to Bolton’s leaders — including council leader Cliff Morris and the borough’s three MPs — taking the unusual step of releasing a strongly worded joint statement citing their “serious concerns” over the deal.
Petitions were also launched, one by Bolton Cllr Peacock and Kate Challender, and another online petition which picked up more than 1,500 signatures in 24 hours, with campaigning London MP Stella Creasy travelling to Bolton last Thursday to attend a demonstration outside the town hall.
Two Bolton firms, Purple Property Shop and Booths Music, also pulled their sponsorship from the club in protest.
Wanderers said in their statement: “The club have taken on board feedback from our fan base and following discussions between chairman Phil Gartside and several local and national politicians, including leader of Bolton Council Cliff Morris, the club will no longer be entering into a sponsorship agreement with QuickQuid.
“The club is proud of its place in the local community and has worked tirelessly for a considerable time to build relationships across a wide spectrum of community projects.
"In particular the successful education programmes, which have seen more than 350 students pass through the club in the last two years, and the continued exceptional work of the club’s community trust.
“Whilst we anticipated some negative responses from the initial agreement, we underestimated the adverse reaction to the sector of business in which the sponsor operated.
"We undertook significant research into QuickQuid and were satisfied that they were a regulated and responsible lender.”
Cllr Morris added: “I am pleased with Bolton Wanderers Football Club’s decision to reconsider their recent sponsorship proposal”.
“We have been in discussion with the club since last week’s announcement to raise our concerns and those of the community.
“Their response clearly shows the value the club places on the support of their fans and the wider Bolton family.”
Wanderers added in the announcement: “After speaking with the University of Bolton, chancellor, Baroness Morris of Bolton, and vice chancellor Dr George Holmes, and building on our already active partnership with the university, they introduced us to one of their technology partners, FibrLec."
Mr Gartside said: “We are proud that our club will be working closely with a local community technology company that has grown from the University of Bolton.”
Dr Holmes said: “The university already has a close working relationship with Bolton Wanderers in the field of sport and exercise science and sports rehabilitation for elite athletes.
"This latest venture builds further on this strategic partnership.”