Leeds Met enters a league of its own

May 18, 2007

Many university chiefs are known to enjoy the hospitality and networking opportunities of a day out at the big match, writes Phil Baty.

But Leeds Metropolitan University vice-chancellor Simon Lee has taken his passion for sport a step further by taking over his local rugby union club.

Leeds Met has not only taken a controlling stake in Leeds Tykes, it has also placed key executives on the club's board, including Professor Lee, who becomes chairman.

The club has even renamed the Tykes to reflect the university's ownership.

But rather than opting for an obvious moniker, such as the "Leeds Mets", it has named the club after its historic Carnegie faculty of sport and education.

Leeds Carnegie players, who return to Premier League competition next season, will sport the Leeds Met rose logo on their shirts.

Professor Lee said that the university sought to create more opportunities for students to "rub shoulders with champions".

The deal, unprecedented in the UK, has not cost the university a penny. It is a partnership with Leeds Rugby Ltd, who will continue with the day-to-day running of the club.

However, Leeds Met will take a 51 per cent stake and will take responsibility for any losses. It has also said that it will direct resources to improving corporate support and increasing attendances at home games, potentially drawing on the city's 100,000 student population.

The university already enjoys a stake in the club's famous Headingley Stadium, renamed Headingley Carnegie. And the institution won The Times Higher 's 2006 award Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community for its work in helping to rescue Bradford City Football Club from administration.

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