One upshot of the recession is that Indian and Middle Eastern companies are being linked to just about every available sponsorship property. For weeks, there has been speculation that Manchester United would replace AIG with an Indian conglomerate like Sahara. Now, there are rumours that Tottenham Hotspur will replace its current short sponsor Mansion with a UAE-based partner when the online betting firm’s four-year deal expires this summer.
Perhaps even more interesting are rumours that Liverpool is talking to India’s GMR Group about a possible takeover. GMR – a diversified conglomerate which is run by billionaire Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao – initially started conversations about a sponsorship deal. But this is believed to have led to a more broad-based discussion about investment in the club. GMR, which already backs Indian Premier League cricket team Delhi Daredevils, would have to pay around £500 million to take control of the Merseyside club. But it would then be in a position to use the club as a platform for various marketing initiatives.