Man United still looking at Asian shirt sponsors

English Premier League club, Manchester United, is still searching for the right shirt sponsorship deal to replace Vodafone. According to the Mena Report, club representatives are in talks with several companies, most notably Etihad Airways, the United Arab Emirates carrier, which is believed to have offered about £8 million - about £1 million less than Vodafone are paying.

“United consider the offer too low but many in the industry believe that, with the market a little depressed, the club may have to settle for about £12 million. Etihad Airways aims at increasing its exposure in the UK and recently announced that it would begin daily Manchester to Abu Dhabi flights, possibly in March next year,” the publication stated.

However Harry Philp, managing director of Hermes Sports Partners financial advisers, told Bill Wilson of BBC News that the new owners of the club, the American Glazer family, are not under financial pressure to cut inferior deals (Glazer brothers l-r, Bryan, Avram and Joel). He said the Glazer business plan is built on a number of debts which are structured to have low repayments in the early years.

Mr Philp said eliminating the £267 million of debt they loaded onto the club when they took over is a priority for the family. "It is easy for some critics to say this is the start of the end - but the debt is so back-loaded it is not going to impact immediately ... We very much expect them to get rid of the senior debt as soon as they can - they may offer some kind of bond issue to spread it out over a 25-year period, and backed by season ticket revenue."

See also: Man United told to look to Asia for shirt sponsor (1 Dec)