Manchester City have become the first professional football club to join the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme.

A spokesman for Stonewall, the leading gay rights organisation, praised the club for being the first to “put their head above the parapet,” and hinted that other clubs may soon follow Man City’s lead.

Over 200 companies and organisations have now signed up for the scheme, which promotes good employment practice.

Companies work with Stonewall, and each other, to promote lesbian, gay and bisexual equality in the workplace.

IBM, Barclays, Manchester City Council and the Royal Navy are among employers who are already part of the programme.

Research by Stonewall shows that being homophobic can cost firms money.

74% of gay and 42% of straight consumers are less likely to buy products from companies that hold negative views of lesbians and gay men

The programme’s membership has doubled in the last 12 months, with many blue-chip companies wanting to make sure that they do not discriminate against LGBT staff.