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Sat 4 Nov 2006 08:00 PM

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Ahead of the game

Money talks in the world of sport, and companies are taking advantage in a bid to raise key brand awareness.

Sports sponsorship deals

• Emirates Airline won naming rights for Arsenal's new 60,000-seat ground at Ashburton Grove, North London in 2004 when it signed a record US$180m deal – lasting until the end of the 2020/2021 season. With this, it also acquired rights to become Arsenal’s shirt sponsor. Emirates also sponsors German Bundesliga side Hamburg and in September it secured a unique and unprecedented double promotional coup, on a global scale, when the two clubs met in the Champions’ League. UEFA forbids the same sponsor appearing on opposing team’s shirts, so Arsenal’s jersey simply bore the word ‘Dubai’, generating headlines and images around the world.

• Motor sports’ pull for sponsors is so strong that the biggest name in world football - Real Madrid - reached an agreement last week with a top, as yet unnamed, F1 team to put its logo on their car at next season’s Spanish grand prix. The figures involved have not yet been revealed. The Primera Liga club’s president Ramon Calderon said the car will be painted white for the race, taking place in the city of their Catalonian arch-enemies Barcelona. “The agreement is with a team with a good chance of winning and will be for one or two grand prix, but at Montmelo (Circuit de Catalunya) for sure.”

The power of tv

• The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced this week it is switching several events finals from the evening to the morning at the 2008 Beijing Olympics - including swimming and most gymnastics - in order to suit US broadcaster NBC’s scheduling. NBC requested the changes so the events can be shown live at primetime in the US. “One speaks of one or two sports, but in the end it’s about 28 sports,” said Hein Verbruggen, the head of the IOC’s coordination commission for the Beijing Games. “Such a schedule is a matter of discussion with the host country, the broadcasters and the federations. What comes out of it is a compromise.” NBC also wanted more athletics and basketball at prime time in the US, but the IOC decided athletics finals, except for the marathon, will be held at night and the mens’ basketball final will be in the afternoon. Swimming officials in Britain and Australia have voiced their discontent over the switch.

• Rugby union’s premier European club competition, the Heineken Cup, has just secured distribution in over 100 countries worldwide. The distribution was secured by the Pitch International agency, appointed on behalf of ERC (the Heineken Cup organizers) to manage the sales and distribution of its rights. Deals include the recently announced agreement with ESPN covering the regions of Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, Israel, Africa, and English speaking North Africa. Setanta, in North America, have also reached an agreement. Pitch International said the competition will be broadcast in several new territories including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Greece.