Chaos on the world markets spilled over into the sheltered world of Oxford sport yesterday, as the annual Varsity rugby match lost its sponsor, the bankrupt financiers Lehman Brothers.
Peter Bridges, Chair of Oxford’s rugby club (OURFC), has insisted that the match will go ahead in December.
Given the deepening financial crisis, OURFC may struggle to replace its sponsor for the match, traditionally the biggest event in its calendar.
Bridges admitted that the current climate “doesn’t make things easier” but said finding a new sponsor was “not an impossibility.”
He refused to disclose how large a hole in OURFC’s budget had been left by the demise of Lehman Brothers, citing confidentiality agreements with the defunct bank. But he said it was “obviously a blow” and would “have an impact, but not to the extent that match can’t go ahead.”
Bridges emphasised that OURFC were big enough to cope with the crisis but would still “like a lot of support” at the match.
OURFC’s website still advertises the “Lehman Brothers Varsity Match” – a deal the Oxford and Cambridge rugby clubs that was set to run until 2010.
Lehman Brothers, the US investment bank, lost billions of dollars in the US mortgage market before filing for bankruptcy yesterday. In response, stock markets around the world have experienced a second day of turmoil.