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Business & Economy

Net gains for women’s sport

Tyneside’s only elite women’s sports team can look forward to the future with confidence thanks to the ongoing support of the region’s business community.

Newcastle Eagles WBBL play at the highest level of British basketball and the team is ranked inside the top eight nationally.

But it’s only thanks to the backing of valued sponsors that players have been able to continue inspiring the stars of the future and play a key role at the heart of the North East community.

This time last year the future looked uncertain for the Eagles’ women’s team and fellow WBBL club Sheffield Hatters were forced to pull out of the 2020-21 season as a result of financial pressures brought about by the global pandemic.

But Newcastle were able to secure a main shirt sponsor for the first time as sports tech innovator GiveToLocal agreed a club-wide partnership boosting both the women’s and men’s (BBL) teams.

And the vital support of additional WBBL sponsors WL Distillery, Tombola, Enigma Tap and Cramlington-based The Kitchen and Bedroom Company enabled the Eagles to plan for the current season and beyond.

Paul Blake, Newcastle Eagles Managing Director, says: “The support the club has had from both local and national organisations and businesses through this difficult season has been huge.

“In the early part of the season, before any Government assistance was in place, it was a total game-changer and made playing possible.

“Some of our partners have been behind the Eagles for a number of years in the BBL but we’ve able to work with some exciting new names in the last 12 months.

“The development of our WBBL programme, coupled with greater media coverage, has opened up even more opportunities.

“We cannot thank these partners enough for their contribution to the future of the club on both the men’s and women’s sides.”

Newcastle Eagles WBBL is home to several homegrown stars — including two products of the club’s academy — in a multicultural line-up boasting players from America and Spain.

And it’s the team’s position at the heart of the community, coupled with its reputation as a beacon for excellence in women’s sport regionally, that appealed to GiveToLocal.

“It’s hugely important that the girls and young women playing basketball and every other sport across the North East can point to role models and success stories on their doorstep,” says Neil Gardiner, GiveToLocal co-founder and CEO.

“Newcastle Eagles WBBL epitomise the values, ambition and sense of community associated with sport. The synergy with GiveToLocal is clear.

“We’re very proud to be associated with the women’s team and we’ve enjoyed every twist and turn of a rollercoaster season.

“Due to lockdown restrictions we’ve been forced to watch the Eagles’ progress from afar but we can’t wait to get behind the team in person.

“Everyone at GiveToLocal wishes Newcastle’s WBBL side all the luck in the world as they head towards the end-of-season playoffs.”

The Eagles can secure their place in the playoffs (basketball’s traditional end-of-season tournament) tonight if results elsewhere go their way.

That would maintain the team’s position as a top eight side and increase brand visibility and awareness at a time when women’s sport is experiencing welcome recognition and a greater share of media coverage regionally and nationally.

“It’s been a challenging 12 months for everyone,” adds Paul. “But looking forward we’re excited by the prospect of both our WBBL and BBL teams in the playoffs together for the first time.

“Beyond playing behind closed doors we can’t wait for the return of spectators next season and to welcome our sponsors back.

“Corporate hospitality at the Vertu Motors Arena is a key part of the full game night experience that we pride ourselves on.

“Everyone at the club is feeling positive for the 2021-22 season and with the continued support of North East business and our fantastic fanbase I don’t see any reason to temper that optimism.”

To find out more about sponsorship opportunities at Newcastle Eagles email the club’s sales and communications manager, Dan Black, via [email protected]

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