The man behind a multi-million pound stadium sponsorship deal at Bolton Wanderers has revealed a poignant reason for forging links with the club.

Doug Mercer, managing director of Westhoughton recycling firm Toughsheet, said his late wife Bernie’s dedication to her beloved Wanderers inspired him to invest a record sum into putting his company’s name on its front door.

Officially branded the TS Community Stadium, the link-up enabled him to pay a tribute, seven years after she passed away.

The Bolton News: Bernie MercerBernie Mercer

“I have probably been a Bolton fan all my life – but I didn’t know what a Bolton fan was before I’d met my first wife, Bernadette, who would be the mother of my two daughters,” he told The Bolton News.

“She was absolutely besotted. She loved everything about Bolton Wanderers.

“She died of breast cancer but literally still going to games three weeks before she passed away, on crutches, on medication, she just adored the place.

“This is all a little memorial to her because she would have been chuffed to bits to see us doing this.

“It was ridiculous how much she loved the club. Even I’d be jealous sometimes, I felt like a second-class citizen!”

Mercer is a well-known figure in the Bolton community and his company have been involved with The Bolton News’ own business awards for several years.

“I have always tried to help local charities whenever I can, and I’m an ambassador for the Destitute Animal Shelter and am raising quite a lot of money for them at the moment. We are also donors to Bolton Hospice,” he said.

“I like to concentrate on the more local causes because I do think there is more wastage when you look at some of the bigger national ones. I can keep my eye on how they are going on.

“That’s part of getting on board with Bolton Wanderers as well, they are doing things the right way and it feels like a community club again.”

Toughsheet hope the partnership with Wanderers can help promote their brand both in the UK and further afield.

Mercer recently returned from a holiday in Florida and was taken aback with how many Boltonians he bumped into.

“You don’t realise sometimes how famous that brand is, and how many people over there still follow the club from miles away.

“All the history, Lofthouse, Big Sam, people remember it, they are mad and stay up into the middle of the night watching Wanderers.

“For the company, I want to try and tap into that and get our own brand out there and being talked about because the club is going well and it is an exciting time to be involved.”