New sponsorship deal gives Wenger more transfer clout

Sat, Nov 24, 2012, 00:00

The Arsenal chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, says Arsene Wenger will have more money to spend on salaries and transfer fees after the club agreed a new £150 million (€185m) sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines, described as “one of the biggest ever struck in the world of football”.

Arsenal will earn £30m (€37m) a year from the Middle East airline, who have extended their shirt sponsorship by five years until the end of the 2018-19 season and secured the stadium naming rights, which were due to expire in 2021, until 2028. This marks a significant increase in revenue on the previous deal but falls short of Chevrolet’s £357m (€441m), seven-year sponsorship of Manchester United.

The bulk of the £150m is for the sponsorship of the shirt and training kit, with the understanding that the stadium is now widely known as the Emirates, regardless of any contract with the airline.

“This agreement is a testimony to Arsenal’s approach and to the capabilities we have developed in recent years as well as the strength of our partnership with Emirates,” Gazidis said.

“What we can do is develop a really solid financial platform for the club that gives us the ability to compete for top players that we want to bring in and also top players that we want to keep. I think we will be able to be more financially competitive.

“We can pay bigger salaries and I think we can invest more in transfer fees. How we make those decisions will be based on a manager whose judgment over the years has been shown to be absolutely outstanding.

“We do have cash coming in. We want to be able to invest more in the team now so we’ll have that capability in the summer. But last summer we also kept some powder dry so we’ve got the ability to invest if our manager finds the right opportunities in January.”

Hostile reception

Gazidis received a hostile reception at Arsenal’s AGM in October, but he is confident that this sponsorship deal will allow Wenger to appease those fans craving investment in the first team. The chief executive also said that the cash injection will leave the club less reliant on stadium revenue, which has resulted in high ticket prices.

“There’s a lot of people that work passionately at this club who care about this club just as much as the fans do,” he said. “We want to win trophies every single year and we want to win a trophy this year. Clearly the landscape is challenging for us, we’ve chosen a path which is not easy. We get criticised for it a little unjustly.”

Arsenal’s current kit deal with the manufacturers Nike will expire in 2014 and reports suggest the north London club will sign a new agreement with the German brand Adidas. On Wednesday Wenger’s side advanced from the group stage of the Champions League for the 13th year in succession but they remain without a major trophy since 2005.

Tim Payton, spokesman for the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, said: “Trust members now want to see this money spent on strengthening the team. It does give us a sizeable boost but the way you make money is by winning.

“Ivan Gazidis has previously stated that increased sponsorship revenue will lead to lower ticket prices and we hope he will now review this going forward.”

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