With European economies under pressure, Asian companies are now regarded by many leading rights holders as their best opportunity of maximising sponsorship revenues.
A good case in point is Manchester United, which will end its association with US financial service group AIG at the end of the year. Already, there has been speculation that Indian conglomerate Sahara will step in. But now there is talk of Air Asia becoming the club’s new shirt sponsor.
AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes says preliminary discussions have already taken place – though this does not mean a deal has been done. From United’s point of view, Air asia would be a good shirt sponsor for two reasons. Firstly, because the two are already commercial partners – which means there is an understanding between the two. secondly, because Air Asia would help United raise its profile further in the important Asia-Pacific region.
In a separate development, struggling bank RBS says it will end its sponsorship of the Williams F1 team at the end of the 2010 season. The bank, which is reported to be cutting its sponsorship investment in half, is also said to be reviewing its deals with individuals such as tennis star Andy Murray. The one RBS sponsorship which is safe is the Six Nations – which RBS chose to renew earlier this year.