Manchester United score sponsorship deals


China is becoming one of the favourite destinations for teams from Europe’s biggest football leagues during the summer months, as the clubs seek to grow market share for their merchandise.

The Chinese love their football. Although the poor state of the national team has dampened their ardour somewhat, they are big fans of the English Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga, the Spanish La Liga and Italy’s Serie A.

The arrival of big names such as Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka to play for Super League sides has also boosted the profile of the sport in China.

So it was only a matter of time before the commercial opportunities started to turn into real financial deals.

Last week Wahaha beverage company owner Zong Qinghou, who is either China’s second-richest or richest man depending on which rich list you go by, signed a sponsorship deal with Manchester United.

The deal with Wahaha will see the English club drink Qili during training and matches.

“The announcement of partnering with Manchester United represents a perfect opening paragraph in the next chapter of our history,” said Zong, who is worth $16.6 billion (€12.44 billion), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Manchester United commercial director Richard Arnold said: “Wahaha is one of the most iconic brands in China and one that has come to symbolise the dynamism and strength of the modern Chinese economy.”

United tie-ups

In a separate deal, the 19-time English champions announced a three-year sponsorship tie-up with China Construction Bank, the country’s second-biggest lender.

This will give the bank sole rights to issue Manchester United-branded credit cards in the country.

Manchester United believe they have 108 million followers in China, and they have visited the country 11 times since 1975. About 190 million of their 330 million fans are in Asia.

In another deal last week, Manchester United announced a three-year sponsorship deal with Japanese paint manufacturer Kansai, “who will be the club’s first official paint partner”.