London — 29 July, 2022 — Xero, the global small business platform, today announced a new three-year partnership with Lewes F.C. to empower the club to reach its objective of greater equality in the women’s game. Through Xero’s support, the club will highlight the importance of financial sustainability and the vital role it plays in achieving an equitable playing field.
The partnership is the club’s largest and longest of its kind and comes as the East Sussex-based ‘Rooks’ marks its fifth anniversary of becoming the world’s first gender equal club, having made the decision to split its playing budget and resources equally between the men’s and women’s first teams in 2017.
Since then, Lewes F.C. has enjoyed a string of successes: both teams have been promoted, men’s attendances have risen 82 percent, and women’s attendances have increased stratospherically by 367 percent. Interest in women’s football is at an all-time high, as evidenced by record breaking crowds at the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, but there is still plenty of work to be done off the pitch.
Xero aims to go beyond traditional sponsorship and support from the back, helping Lewes F.C. focus on what it does best and continue to be the catalyst for tangible change within the women’s game. The partners firmly believe that strong financial management has a direct impact on a club’s ability to fuel the pipeline for talent and increase recruitment from school age groups. In effect, better numbers off the pitch result in better numbers on the pitch.
In fact, Xero’s partnership is already having a positive influence. The club is hiring for two new brand roles: a Commercial Manager to focus on generating revenue and work towards being financially sustainable, and a Communications Manager to help transform the way they talk to fans, owners and supporters.
The multi-faceted partnership will include:
- Knowledge sharing: Xero’s backing and efficient small business software means Lewes F.C. will be able to invest more time in advising other clubs on their own governance and equality goals and help more people come together to make the sport more inclusive.
- Grassroots club support: Lewes F.C. staff will also visit or host grassroots clubs within Sussex County Football Association region to help further their equality and financial viability objectives and further their development with the help of Xero’s expertise.
- Gender equality and financial viability content: Expect to see Lewes F.C.’s non-playing staff star in a content series on how to develop and implement equality and financial viability.
- Business networking events: Xero will create the “Xero small business networking club” in association with Lewes F.C. with regular events hosted by Xero staff at both Lewes FC and at other venues.
- Tickets, hospitality and branding: Look out for a pop of Xero blue on match days on and off the pitch, as it features on the shirts (sleeve and back), as well as the club’s famous corporate beach huts.
Maggie Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Lewes Football Club, added: “We’re focused on creating a welcoming, inclusive club that’s sustainable for the long term, which is impossible to create without brilliant partners, like Xero who were great from the start. It was the first time, a potential partner dug into our club strategy in detail and asked how we fund our safeguarding officer or accountant – the quiet but necessary nuts and bolts of the club – without whom we could not function.
“What the partnership also does is provide validity and legitimacy for the women’s game. With a brand like Xero coming on board, it’s a message to the wider world that it’s a space worth investing in. I’m confident with the help of Xero we’ll continue to make great strides towards equality.”
Kate Hayward, Director of Operations at Xero, said: “Lewes F.C. has made revolutionary strides in the women’s game. We both understand the strength of community, and we believe in the power of women’s football but also its relationship with small business communities. Improving the financial health of clubs can make a difference and our sponsorship will help Lewes F.C. tell genuine, authentic stories about the importance of financial sustainability in a way that will benefit the wider women’s game. We believe that together we can grow the game.”
Xero is a global small business platform with 3.3 million subscribers which includes a core accounting solution, payroll, workforce management, expenses and projects. Xero also provides access to financial services, and an ecosystem of more than 1,000 connected apps and more than 300 connections to banks and other financial institutions. Through Xero’s open platform, small businesses can connect to a range of solutions that help them run their business and manage their finances. For three consecutive years (2020-2022) Xero was included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. In 2021, Xero was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), powered by the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment. Xero has been named as a FIFA Women’s Football partner under FIFA’s new commercial structure.
About Lewes F.C.
Lewes FC is a 100% fan-owned, democratic football club. In 2017, it became the first (and only) club in the world to treat its women’s and men’s teams equally. Same budget. Same ground. Same facilities. Same support. Same everything. The women’s first team plays in the Barclays’ Women’s Championship and the men’s first team plays in the Isthmian Premier league. The club is powered by its 2,300 owners who reside in 37 countries around the world. Judy Murray, Cerys Matthews and Jonty Rhodes are also co-owners. Lewes FC was named The Times Team of the Year in 2021 and presented with the UN Women UK inaugural award for Inspiration in 2019.
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