University of Portsmouth defends new Pompey shirt deal amid cutbacks

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THE University of Portsmouth has justified its new shirt-deal with Pompey amid increasing cutbacks by arguing it will generate more funds for the institution and city as a whole.

University vice chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith admitted he was delighted at the three-year deal with the football club to become its main sponsor at the partnership’s official launch today at Fratton Park. The university’s logo will go on the shirt for the start of the 2018/19 season.

From left, Portsmouth owner and chairman Michael Eisner, vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth Prof Graham Galbraith and the university's chief operating officer Bernie Topham Picture: Chris Moorhouse

From left, Portsmouth owner and chairman Michael Eisner, vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth Prof Graham Galbraith and the university's chief operating officer Bernie Topham Picture: Chris Moorhouse

The hierarchies from the university and football club remained tight-lipped when asked how much the deal was worth - insisting it was ‘confidential’ but ‘good value for money’.

The announcement today comes off the back of an £800,000 university rebrand at a time when it is trying to save money by making voluntary redundancies as departments are making five to seven per cent cuts - or increase income.

It also comes when professor Galbraith has received a basic salary pay hike of £46,000 since he started his job in September 2013. He is currently paid £266,000, with pension contributions taking that to payments of £305,000-a-year.

But speaking to The News, professor Galbraith said the university could not afford to miss out on such an opportunity, especially with new Pompey chairman Michael Eisner’s ambitious plans for the club.

‘We can’t afford not to invest in our future,’ he said. ‘We’re in a very competitive market and just like our marketing this is another part of that but perhaps a more important part. I’d rather give money to the football club because of the games students go to rather than some advertising firm.’

Asked if the deal will bring in more funds to the university in the long run, Professor Galbraith said: ‘I think it undoubtedly will. But even more important is that we will only be successful if the city of Portsmouth is seen as an exciting destination for young people to come to.

‘So anything we can do to build a city helps us to secure the university for the next 30 to 100 years which is what really matters to me.

‘There might not be any immediate benefit but the long-term benefit will be significant. There’s huge potential and we’re going to be thinking of lots of creative ways where we can get good student experience out of this as well.’

‘There will also be increased opportunities for students with this new partnership. We are the number one university in the country for sports science so it is very natural for us to start to work with the football club.’

He added: ‘For the students across the world who come to the university and come to Fratton Park and cheer Portsmouth they will be able to take that back to the countries where they come from around the world which will be a huge benefit both to the club and to the city.’

Pompey chief executive officer Mark Catlin said the financial implications of the deal were ‘secondary’. He said: ‘The commercial aspect was secondary to us, it was more about the partnership and what this could do for the city as a whole.’

Pompey chairman Michael Eisner said: ‘We had commercial opportunities to do better but the chance to bring together the club and the university as one unit provides a great opportunity for the city. The university tied with us on many aspects that we think will be important moving forward.’

He added: ‘We didn’t realise how big the university was when we first came here which is a big benefit and an asset for us.’