Red, Black and Gold
We have a few things in common with Lewes FC. First and foremost, we’ve been around for a while. Both the Rooks and the Golden Eagle were founded in the late 19th century; the Golden Eagle as an emblem of community-led industry in our native Hawick, the Rooks – founded in the fans’ local pub – as a South Eastern bastion of community-led sport. History and heritage aren’t just something we share, but something we take pride in.
Heritage has its pros and cons. Whether you’re a Scottish knitwear brand, a South Downs football club, or anything in-between – your story is bound to have its highs and lows; Lewes FC make no bones about this. In 2010, the club was less than 24 hours away from bankruptcy, funds having dried up in the wake of the devastating 2008 financial crash. Yet what set Lewes FC apart was the people that knew this didn’t have to be the end of their story; it could be the dawn of a new beginning.
That’s the second commonality between the Rooks and the Golden Eagle: we share a deeply held belief in the power of community. It was the community who had birthed and nurtured Lewes FC that transformed its turmoil: rather than turning to wealthy but unstable private investors to save them, a small group of loyal supporters created a Community Benefit Society where the fans could own the club themselves When every fan owns an equal share in the club, every fan gets an equal say in how it is run. Now with over 1500 local owners, Lewes FC has nurtured a community-led and community-focused culture that we absolutely adore.
It's not just the First Team that matters at Lewes FC. Alongside a fantastic Under 18s team as well as sessions that provide after-school practice for kids, the club launched its pioneering ‘Equality FC’ initiative in 2017. Lewes FC became the first and – still the only – side in the world to have equal playing budgets for men and women. Male and female players are paid exactly the same. Such a progressive approach has seen a rapid rise in attendance for women's games and the squad has now joined the second tier of the league. They’ve even played against legendary counterparts like Spurs, Manchester United, and Aston Villa as part of the FA’s Women's Championship. This is grassroots, community-led football at the cutting edge.
All of this meant that Lewes FC were the perfect partner for Lyle and Scott. We’ve always believed in community and inclusivity; we’ve always believed in using our resources to support those that share our values. Maggie Murphy, General Manager of Lewes FC’s women’s section, explained that ‘in a dark year where women’s sport faced so many setbacks’, this new partnership ‘proves that women’s football and ethical, community-oriented football is the future of the game.’ Our six-figure investment is the one of the largest investments ever obtained by an English women’s team.
So, what are we working on with Lewes FC? The collaboration will include (but is by no means limited to): purchasing new key players, shirt sponsorship for both the women’s and men’s teams, grassroots community outreach, development of club facilities, competitions, exclusives, and an in-depth content series that will help Lewes FC tell their unique but globally relevant story of equality, community, and independence.
Lewes FC are a beacon of the sporting world, a beacon that we couldn’t ignore for a moment longer. Our focus has always been on building community, supporting and collaborating with those whose pioneering visions are powerful conduit for change. For us, this was never an opportunity to simply sponsor Lewes FC; this was an opportunity to tell their story, support their journey, and inform the wider world about the outstanding work that the club has done and – with our help – will continue to do long into the future.
This is about more than football. The future is bright, the future is red, black... and gold.