STOKE CITY will be given the Freedom of the City of Stoke-on-Trent at half-time during this evening’s Premier League date with Cardiff at the Britannia Stadium.
The Club, along with The Queen’s Royal Lancers (QRL), are to be given the honorary award in recognition of their exceptional contributions to the community.
A special nine-minute ceremony will take place on the pitch. It is the first time freedom has been awarded since 2006 and is the highest honour which a city can hand out.
The half-time ceremony, which will be watched by in excess of 20,000 spectators, will see Potters chairman Peter Coates and Major General Patrick Marriott CB CDE DL, who is the Colonel of the Regiment, receive sealed and illuminated certificates of the grant of Honorary Freedom.
They will be joined on the pitch by the Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, councillor Sheila Pitt, who will witness them take the Freeman's Oath and sign the Freeman’s Roll.
Councillor Pitt said: "Here are two notable organisations who have made outstanding contributions to Stoke-on-Trent and life in our city.
"Stoke City is celebrating its 150th anniversary year and what better time to give them this award. Through their success since achieving promotion to the Premier League in 2008, they have raised not only the profile of the club but the city as a whole by appearing in the FA Cup Final which is broadcast around the world and competing in a Europe competition.
"We all know what a fantastic job the Armed Forces do in protecting the freedom and democracy which we all enjoy on a daily basis. The Queen’s Royal Lancers recruit heavily in North Staffordshire and we are rightly very proud of our links with the regiment, and this award shows that."
A motion to approve the awards was passed by a full meeting of Stoke-on-Trent City Council in October. This month the city council signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant in support of servicemen and women and their families.
Stoke City chairman Mr Coates said: "It is an enormous honour for the Club to receive this honour, particularly as it coincides with our 150th anniversary year.
"As a Club, we place great importance on playing an important role within our local community. The profile of being in the Premier League is greater now than it has ever been as games are watched by two billion in 800 million homes around the globe and it's important we help the city of Stoke-on-Trent continue to thrive.
"The fact that we will be presented with the honour at the Britannia Stadium in front of the Club's supporters only serves to make it that much more special."
Lieutenant Colonel Jules Buczacki, the commanding officer of the Queen's Royal Lancers, said: "The regiment is hugely pleased to be awarded the freedom of Stoke-on-Trent reaffirming the Regiment's strong links with the area.
"It is particularly special for the regiment to receive the freedom of Stoke-on-Trent in the same year as the regiment celebrated its home coming from operations by marching through the city."
One of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today, the Freedom of the City is co-ordinated and reported to city council by the Lord Mayor's office. A total of 63 have been handed out so far, including legendary footballer Sir Stanley Matthews in 1963.