Virgin Media passes football shirt sponsorship to Scope for disability awareness campaign

Virgin Media will donate its shirt sponsorship of Southampton FC to disability charity Scope on Wednesday (17 May) as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the abuse suffered by some disabled fans at games.

l-r: Jonnie Peacock, Jay Rodriguez, Fraser Forster, Richard Whitehead, Steven Davis
l-r: Jonnie Peacock, Jay Rodriguez, Fraser Forster, Richard Whitehead, Steven Davis

The campaign follows research by Virgin Media and Scope which found that 80 per cent of disabled fans have experienced some form of discrimination while at football stadiums. This includes negative attitudes and verbal abuse from able-bodied fans.

Two-thirds of those that have suffered abuse have stopped attending matches as a result, the research shows.

To highlight the issue and raise money for the charity, Saints' fans will be invited onto the pitch to take penalties during half time of the club's match against Manchester United on Wednesday.

Virgin Media's PR agency Pretty Green is handling all PR and content creation for the campaign.

This includes a video (below) of Paralympic athletes Jonnie Peacock and Richard Whitehead training with Southampton players Fraser Forster, Jay Rodriguez and Steven Davis and learning how to take the 'perfect' penalty.

Shirt swaps in football

During the 2015/16 Football League Championship, eventual winners Burnley wore shirts bearing the logo of its official charity, Burnley FC in the Community, instead of its then sponsor Oak Furniture Land. 

Meanwhile, in October last year, Liverpool FC and its regular sponsor banking group Standard Chartered also swapped sponsorship with Seeing Is Believing – a charitable initiative designed to tackle avoidable blindness. The bank, which set up Seeing is Believing in 2003, has sacrified its sponsorship on Liverpool shirts on a number of occasions.

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