AFC Bournemouth has been praised by the man in charge of Barclays’ Premier League sponsorship for its “fabulous” work promoting diversity.

Nathan Homer, who leads the bank’s global sponsorship group, praised the way the club had supported its official photographer Sophie Cook, the first transgender woman in British football.

Mr Homer was among the speakers at the student-run Mike Warne Marketing Communications Lecture at Bournemouth University.

As well as praising Cherries manager Eddie Howe, Mr Homer said Barclays had helped promote an inclusive agenda in football.

“I was lucky enough to meet Eddie when he was made the manager of the year last year at the League Managers Association Awards, which Barclays also sponsor,” he said.

“When you speak to him and hear his passion, it clearly runs through the whole club to not just make a difference and be successful on the pitch but to make sure that success really translates into a lot of other areas in the community.

“Someone at Bournemouth like Sophie Cook is playing, I think, a fabulous role in driving a diversity and inclusion message using the power of football and its attraction into an audience that maybe wouldn’t be receptive to those messages – and that’s an area we’ve been very happy to help with," he said.

He said the focus on inclusion was among the benefits that Barclays’ sponsorship had brought.

“We can help some of the sports bodies that maybe don’t think as broadly about inclusion, inclusivity and access and hopefully guide them,” he said.

“We set up with the clubs and the Premier League a programme called Barlcays Premier League Works, which is really about helping some of the disadvantaged, disenfranchised people around all the communities and clubs in the country trying to get back into work, give them some skills training, build their confidence and all the other things.”

He said the bank was able to have the league trophy touring in the community for around 200 days a year, often in schools where it could be used as a reward.

Mr Homer also spoke of the benefits of the sponsorship deal to Barlcays. “For us, when we entered the partnership we were looking at expanding Barclays quite dramatically into new markets around the world,” he said.

“The Premier League is obviously not only extremely well known, liked and followed around the world, but by having our name on the top of it we knew we would get instant credibility and stature.”