A man wearing the blue Everton Football Club home shirt. He is holding a yellow ball under his arm and pointing at the camera.

Anthony Nolan Urges Football Fans to Unite and Join the League of Lifesavers

May 15, 2024

As the race for the Premier League top six enters the final week pioneering stem cell donor register, Anthony Nolan, has announced the ‘top six’ lifesaving cities in England – and is calling on football fans from every club to unite and join the ‘League of Lifesavers’.

London, home to Premier League clubs Arsenal and Fulham, tops the charity Anthony Nolan’s League of Lifesavers – the cities in England that most registered stem cell donors call home. Manchester, home to United and City, is second place in the charity’s league, which brings together people from all walks of life, united by a common goal: saving lives.

Anthony Nolan has calculated that the top six cities are home to almost one in four of the 900,000+ stem cell donors registered with the charity in the UK. The organisation is encouraging football fans aged 16-30 – no matter their city or team – to join the register and take 900,000 donors to 1 Million United.

The League of Lifesavers top six:

  1. London, home to over 93,000 registered stem cell donors,
  2. Manchester, for whom almost 16,000 call home,
  3. Birmingham, home to over 13,000 donors,
  4. Leeds, which nearly 12,000 donors call home,
  5. Liverpool, home to over 11,500 people who are on the Anthony Nolan register,
  6. Sheffield, for whom over 10,000 stem cell donors call home.

Anthony Nolan established the world’s first stem cell register of potential donors willing to donate their stem cells to people with blood cancer or blood disorders 50 years ago in 1974 – the year Leeds United won the league (runners up: Liverpool). The register is vital to match patients, anywhere in the world, in need of a stem cell transplant with compatible donors.

Joining the Anthony Nolan register involves providing a simple cheek swab. This is used to determine a donor’s tissue type and is compared to the tissue type of a patient in need of a lifesaving transplant to make a suitable match. A patient is more likely to match with someone the same ethnicity as them driving Anthony Nolan’s aim to build and diversify the register.

Matt Allen, Senior Marketing Manager for Anthony Nolan, and Manchester United fan, says: ‘The next match could change everything for Arsenal and Manchester City fans – just as a donor match can change the world for a patient in need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant.

‘Someone in the football family - a Gooner a Villain or a Red Devil - could be a match but won’t know if they aren’t on the Anthony Nolan register.  Fans of all football clubs can join the Anthony Nolan stem cell register to bump their city up the League of Lifesavers.

‘While this is a light-hearted way of appealing to football fans across the UK we have a serious message: As the race for the top six concludes there’s still something fans can do to get that feel good feeling at the end of the season. No matter where in the league your team finishes you can sign up, squad up and one day save a life.’

Young men are most likely to be matched with a patient in need, meaning the charity particularly needs them to sign up. Having a wide range of ethnicities on the stem cell register is also vital to ensure everyone has the best chance of surviving blood cancer and blood disorders. Through the power of football Anthony Nolan wants to grow from 900,000 to 1 Million United – to give more patients a shot at life because the more people who sign up, the more matches Anthony Nolan can find.

To find out more, and to join the Anthony Nolan team, visit anthonynolan.org/1millionunited.