The new football arena in Zurich will carry the logo and name of Credit Suisse. The bank is already a long-time sponsor of the national team.
Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, has bought the name right to the future football stadium in Zurich, it said in a statement on Thursday. The new arena will be called «Credit Suisse Arena» and the deal runs for ten years following the opening of the stadium.
The history of the new football arena in Zurich has become a drawn-out affaire. For decades, Switzerland’s largest city had two arenas – one each for the two clubs. In 2008, the Hardturm Stadium, where the Grasshopper Club Zurich played their home games, was demolished and the two clubs went on to share the new Letzigrund Arena, built in time for the 2008 European Football Championships.
The problem is that the new Letzigrund offers too much space for the clubs. Matches often attract fewer than 5,000 fans, a fifth of the arena’s capacity. Also, given its conception as an athletics stadium, it is unsuitable for football. Spectators are very far off the pitch and the atmosphere remains lacklustre.
Ever since the demolition of the Hardturm, the clubs complained that they needed a new football-only stadium, which also ought to provide exclusive VIP-areas that the clubs could sell at a premium.
Football and a History of Crowd Trouble
Still, earlier plans to build a new stadium failed because voters rejected the projects presented. The first project failed because neighbors worried about the size of the new stadium, the second because it would have cost the city a lot of money – too much in the eyes of citizens concerned about crowd trouble that besets the sport in Switzerland.
The latest project was approved by voters in November 2018 and will have a capacity of 18,000. Credit Suisse expects the new stadium to be ready for the season 2022/2023, if all goes according to plan.
Traditional Sponsors of Football
Credit Suisse has sponsored Swiss football for a long time, both as the main sponsor of the national team, but also on a grassroots level as sponsors of the annual school team championships. By contrast, UBS is best known for its sponsorship of athletics – the sport whose Swiss home is in the Letzigrund.
But Credit Suisse is also firmly linked to the Grasshopper Club. The once dominant football club of Switzerland was sponsored by generations of bank directors. The most prominent period came at the end of the last century, when Rainer E. Gut, the former chairman of Credit Suisse and Nestle, and three colleagues took over the lead of the club. They bought a series of high-profile players, spending dozens of millions on the club before leaving a few years later.
Tough Times for GCZ
Meanwhile, Grasshoppers have fallen upon hard times – they were relegated at the end of last season and two games had to be suspended after groups of hooligans had run amok. On this background, the deal announced today comes as welcome relieve to the Grasshopper Club, but also to FC Zurich, which is a mid-field club in the first division.
«With Credit Suisse Arena, we are extending our engagement for Swiss football for the long term, an engagement that we have nurtured through the partnership with the Swiss Football Association for more than 25 years,» said Thomas Gottstein, CEO of Credit Suisse Switzerland.
Committed to Zurich
Gottstein also said that the deal was testament to Credit Suisse’s commitment to Zurich. He was looking forward to the first games in the new arena.
Whether his bosses at the group level agree doesn’t emerge from the statement. Tidjane Thiam, the CEO, is known to support the Young Boys of Bern – who topped the Swiss league two years in a row. Thiam told a local newspaper in 2018 that he owned two shirts of Young Boys, one with the name of striker Roger Assalé, who also has roots in Côte d’Ivoire, and one with his own name.
Source : finews.com