English Championship football club Queens Park Rangers (QPR) has announced it will hand over its stadium naming rights to a local charity for free.
Fans of the London-based club have the opportunity to nominate a charity via an online survey on QPR’s official website through to May 3. QPR will then compile a shortlist of nominations and will give fans the chance to vote for their preferred selection.
QPR’s Loftus Road, which has never had a naming-rights sponsor, opened in 1904, with QPR moving in 13 years later.
In February, QPR chief executive Lee Hoos said that staying at Loftus Road is “unsustainable” in the long term due to its age, relatively small capacity of less than 19,000, and the lack of facilities for non-matchdays.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council have drawn up plans to rebuild the nearby Linford Christie Stadium, primarily used as an athletics venue, as a new 45,000-seat home for the club.
The length of the proposed naming-rights agreement, which would begin with the 2019-20 season, has not been disclosed.
However, QPR urged fans to consider various factors before making their nomination.
The club said that the chosen charity must have a local focus and play a strong role in the community. QPR added that the charity must have the “appropriate internal infrastructure in place to take advantage of the increased awareness”.
Hoos said: “I have spoken with the Supporters Consultation Committee as well as numerous individual fans and floated this idea to them. We spoke about how we can use Loftus Road to really help a charity get exposure they would never normally be able to achieve.
“The message that came back from the fans I spoke to was that it had to be a charity that meant something to the supporters, and it had to be a local organisation which positively impacts on the community.
“There are so many worthwhile causes out there who do incredible things, so the next question was how we decide which charity to work with. Consultation with fans is something that I have always believed in, and so it makes absolute sense to let the supporters make that decision.”
A similar arrangement struck in 2011 by US Major League Soccer franchise Sporting KC, which donated its naming rights to Livestrong, ended in acrimony two years later amid the fall-out of the cancer charity’s founder, Lance Armstong, being exposed as a doping cheat during his illustrious cycling career.
Image: Matt Churchill