FOOTBALL: WOKING Football Club have announced that their home ground in Kingfield Road shall now be known as the The Laithwaite Community Stadium.
The two-year naming rights deal – with an option to extend – was brokered with Knaphill-based business Laithwaite Financial Services Ltd and unveiled at a press conference at the club last Thursday.
It is the first time in their 93-year tenure at the Kingfield Stadium that the Cardinals have entered into such an agreement – with this landmark deal believed to be in the region of a six-figure sum over the course of the contract.
Supporters will already be aware of the Laithwaite brand at the stadium after Managing Director, Andrew Laithwaite, tied up a deal last season to sponsor the revamped corporate Geoff Chapple Lounge.
Speaking at Thursday’s launch, Mr Laithwaite explained how he has been a keen advocate of youth football in the area for many years, being actively involved with the Surrey Primary League, which has included managing a team at local club Woking Town.
“For many years I have been involved in youth football and when the opportunity to become a sponsor at the club presented itself, I could see the benefit of a partnership between youth football and Woking Football Club,” he said.
“I just felt that there could be a good connection there to bring the youth into Woking Football Club. At the end of the day the success of any football club is its youth.”
Mr Laithwaite added that as part of the new arrangement, Woking FC’s commercial team were in talks with officials at local youth leagues, with proposals including hosting local boys and girls teams as VIP guests at home matches.
On being the first ground sponsor in Woking Football Club’s history, Mr Laithwaite added: “We are privileged and it is a great honour to have been offered this opportunity by the board of directors. This sponsorship further cements our relationship with this football club that is so well respected and important to the local community.”
Woking FC Chairman Mike Smith added his approval to the renaming of the ground, saying that the deal represents ‘a new chapter’ for the part-time Vanarama National League side, one which will ‘put us on a stronger financial footing going forward and allow us to focus on giving our best performance on the pitch’.
Mr Smith also spoke at length of his pride at securing a sponsorship partner with ‘serious community interests’ that will add to the club’s award-winning community efforts – recently named 2015 Non-League Community Club of the Year. Mr Smith described the set-up as helping to provide ‘a first class football club and a first rate community club’.
Operational for the past 10 years under the management of Community Co-ordinator, Jane Spong, the community arm of the club has itself undergone a name change this summer, and will now be known as Cardinals in the Community to reflect its change in status to a charitable organisation.
As reported in the News & Mail recently, a planning application is currently under review for proposed works to the classroom and playing facilities at the club’s youth base at Woking College.