SARACENS will today announce a groundbreaking £9m sponsorship deal with Allianz that will see the insurance giant take naming rights for the rugby club’s new home in north London.
The 10,000-seater multi-use stadium at Barnet Copthall is due to open its gates in February and will be known as Allianz Park following the agreement of a six-year contract that also covers shirt sponsorship.
It is thought to be the first combined shirt and naming rights deal in top-flight English rugby and cements a growing relationship between the 2011 Premiership champions and the financial services multinational.
“To be able to call it the Allianz Park is, to be honest, a huge feather in our cap,” Saracens chairman Nigel Wray told City A.M.
“Allianz is the largest insurance company in the world and we’re a financial pygmy. Touch wood, we’ve got a jolly good, well respected brand name, but we have to look after it and make it better and better.
“It’s only a boutique stadium but it could well be the best located stadium in London and the last stadium to be built in London. I think it’s a groundbreaker.”
Allianz already sponsor the futuristic home of German football clubs Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich and Wray added: “We’d like to be the Allianz Arena’s little baby brother.”
Saracens’ new stadium on the site of an old athletics ground has cost £20m to develop, of which it is understood almost half will be recouped through the Allianz sponsorship deal.
It features artificial turf instead of grass and its facilities, including a running track, will be available for use by local schoolchildren throughout the week.
The club is also set to follow in the footsteps of Manchester United and open a commercial office in the City, as they look to offer the stadium’s conference facilities to companies for event days.
Today’s announcement marks the latest collaboration between Saracens and Allianz, which has for the past three years been offering the club’s players work placements aimed at helping their careers post-retirement.
“Saracens are on such an upward curve right now,” said Clement Booth, member of Allianz’s board of management and one of around 4,000 of the company’s employees who are based in the City.
“They are ahead of where they wanted and needed to be at this stage. Then you’ve got the Rugby World Cup, you’ve got Sevens coming into the Olympic Games – rugby is a sport on the up.”