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Of shirts and sponsors

Of shirts and sponsors

Etihad Airways announces a shirt sponsorship deal with football club Manchester City, following Emirates’s trend.

May 25, 2009 11:42 by

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has just signed a three-year deal to be the official shirt sponsor and partner of football team Manchester City FC. The Etihad Airways brand logo will appear on Manchester City shirts from July 18 when City take on the Orlando Pirates in Cape Town in the first game of their pre-season tour in South Africa. Etihad Airways’s logo will also be featured at the City of Manchester Stadium, the club’s website and on match day merchandises.

The airline and the club are also planning to work together on several overseas projects including team tours to the UAE and South Africa.

The deal now makes the Abu Dhabi connection even stronger; Manchester City was bought by Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment in September last year. “The Abu Dhabi partnership with the city is hugely important and one which will bring significant benefits to everyone associated with Manchester,” said Sir Howard Bernstein, CEO of Manchester City Council, during the announcement.

But this is more than just the Abu Dhabi link for Etihad.  “You can be the official airline of a team, or a platinum partner, but as long as you are not on the shirt, you are not exactly in the same league as many others,” Peter Baumgartner, the chief commercial officer of the carrier told The National. “It’s our time to be on a shirt.”

And it’s certainly a philosophy that Dubai-based Emirates Airlines has believed for a long time.

In 2000, the airline signed a four year deal worth GBP24 million (around $38 million) with Chelsea and the Fly emirates logo blazed on the club’s t-shirt. In 2004, Emirates switched allegiance, and signed a long-term sponsorship deal worth GBP100 million ($178 million) deal with Chelsea’s rival, Arsenal.

The agreement saw Arsenal’s stadium renamed as the Emirates stadium, and the airline became the Arsenal shirt and stadium sponsor for eight years at the start of the 2006-2007 season.

Emirates also sponsors the French club Paris Saint Germain (PSG), has branded their shirts since 2005, and has renewed the deal until the 2013-2014 season.  In January this year, the airline also renewed its sponsorship of German football club Hamburg SV for another three years. The Fly Emirates logo has been on the team’s shirts since 2006.

According to a report last month in Italian paper Corriere della Sera, Emirates has also expressed interest to become the new official shirt sponsor of football club AC Milan, whose 10 million Euro (around $14 million) sponsorship deal with Bwin expires in 2010.

The report said that AC Milan chief Galliani met Emirates head Shiekh Al Maktoum met in a luxury hotel in the center of Milan, where the two debated figures and numbers about the shirt sponsorship. Emirates is apparently willing to pay 20 million Euros (around $28 million) each season for four years with an option for a fifth.

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