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Wimbledon tournament organisers under fire over bank sponsorship
By our News Team | 2023
UK personalities are leading calls for sponsorship deal to be cancelled due to bank’s involvement in fossil-fuel projects.
As the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament got underway in London yesterday (Monday), not all the attention was focused on the on-court action.
Event organisers, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, are under fire for a major sponsorship deal with Barclays Bank, which detractors say is a supporter of the fossil fuel industry. Barclays and the Wimbledon organisers signed a reported US$25,4-million a year deal in November 2022, which saw Barclays named Official Banking Partner.
Photo credit: Barclays Bank
An open letter was sent to the All England Lawn Tennis Club just ahead of the tournament’s opening. It has been signed by a range of high-profile people in UK public life – including a musician, film director, TV personality, businesspeople, environmental activists and politicians. The best-known is Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson, who holds the title of Dame (equivalent to the male designation of ‘Sir’).
Among other things the letter states: “We hope you will reconsider this decision, and end your partnership with Barclays.
“In taking such action, you can show real climate leadership, and maintain the [All England Lawn Tennis Club’s] proud position of cultural and sporting leadership, both in the UK and across the world.
Allegation that bank profits from ‘climate chaos’
“Put simply, Barclays is financing and profiting from climate chaos, and accepting a sponsorship deal from them is an endorsement of these actions.”
Barclays is accused of being Europe’s largest fossil fuel funder by providing over US$190-billion to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Climate Agreement was struck in 2016. In May this year, the bank’s annual general meeting (AGM) was disrupted by climate activists protesting over these alleged actions.
For its part, Barclays acknowledges its involvement in financing various fossil fuel projects, but says it could “make the greatest difference as a bank by working with customers and clients as they transition to a low-carbon business model, focusing on facilitating the finance needed to change business practices and scale new green technologies”.
As part of its sponsorship deal at Wimbledon, the bank has a clubhouse in the public queuing area, a simulator where fans can attempt to return a serve from tennis player and Barclays brand ambassador Frances Tiafoe, a Deuce Bar offering free juice, and a Barclays Fanzone featuring exclusive appearances and Q&As with tennis stars. The bank is also entitled to various branding opportunities, including on umpires’ chairs.
Barclays is known for its long-standing sponsorship arrangements with the English Premier League soccer competition, with which it has been involved since 2001.
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