Oxford's biggest dedicated rock music venue is to be renamed as part of a multi-million-pound sponsorship deal, which its owners have said will boost the profile of live music in the city.

The Carling Academy Oxford, in Cowley Road, is set to become the O2 Academy, following the completion of a deal with communications giant Telefonica O2.

The venue's owners Academy Music Group (AMG) will continue to operate the club and have insisted the rebranding, which will come into effect on January 1, will not affect staff.

However, as part of the change, O2 customers will get priority access to tickets.

The fresh investment affects all 11 Academy venues in the UK, bringing them into the same group as London's O2 Arena – which used to be the Millennium Dome.

The venue's relaunch will be accompanied by what is expected to be an impressive programme of celebrations. It also follows the appointment of new manager Joe Robertson, who previously managed a large venue in Liverpool, and has taken over from Carl Bathgate, who has been promoted.

The 1,350-capacity Academy, on the site of the former Zodiac club, opened last autumn after a major refit and extension.

AMG spokesman Louise Kovacs said: “The Academy brand is synonymous with live music. With our partnership with 02, we can develop new opportunities and benefits to customers and, therefore, our business.”

Olly Wills, frontman of Binsey-based folk-rock band The Epstein; said: "This will be a good thing for music fans. The quality of acts coming to Oxford has gone up since the Carling Academy came to town.

“O2 is an even bigger company than Carling, so hopefully that high standard will be maintained.”

Ronan Dunne, chief executive of Telefonica O2 UK, said: "Through this partnership we are not only looking to benefit O2 customers, but to also enhance the live experience for all artists and music fans.”