Critics of Manchester City will have to stop the mocking soon. Having already demonstrated its ability to sign Brazilian star Robinho, this week saw the club confirm a record sponsorship with Abu-Dhabi-based Etihad Airlines.
The deal, which sees Etihad replace Thomas Cook, is worth between £10-£13 million a year and will run for three years (2009/10-2011-2012). It will be unveiled officially during the club’s pre-season tour of South Africa in July.
The Etihad link is not a big surprise given that Manchester City now belongs to the Abu Dhabi United Group. However it does reinforce the fact that Abu Dhabi’s business interests are serious about using the club as a platform for promoting the city-state’s global brand image.
Echoing similar arrangements with other clubs, there’s also talk of a Manchester City soccer school being set up in Abu Dhabi. Commenting on the sponsorship, Etihad chief executive James Hogan said: “We will work together on building ties between Abu Dhabi and Manchester, especially with youngsters through our soccer schools.”
Next Week: A full rundown of FA Premier League shirt sponsorship deals/rumours going into the new season.