By Rob Morris
Airline reaffirms its commitment amid media reports that deal could be reviewed.
Emirates Airline insisted on Wednesday it was “very happy” sponsoring Arsenal Football Club amid suggestions the deal could be reviewed if the Premier League side finishes outside the top 10.
Tim Clark, president of the Dubai carrier, was quoted earlier on Wednesday by Reuters as saying that the carrier did not expect Arsenal to win the Champions League or Premier League last season.
He reportedly added: “So long as they don’t finish outside the top 10.”
The airline declined to comment on Clark’s quotes when contacted by Arabian Business. But a spokesperson insisted both parties had a long, prosperous future together.
"Emirates and Arsenal Football Club have signed up to a partnership which runs until 2021; this deal includes an eight year sponsorship of the team shirt and the naming rights of Arsenal’s home ground – the Emirates Stadium,” the spokesperson said.
"As stated by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group, and Ivan Gazidis, CEO for Arsenal Football Club at a recent press conference, both the airline and Arsenal are very happy with this partnership and looking forward to the future.
“In fact, Emirates and Arsenal are so confident of the future of their partnership that on May. 21 it was announced that they have joined forces to open an Arsenal Soccer School in Dubai, where children of all nationalities and backgrounds will have the opportunity to learn how to ‘Play the Arsenal Way’.”
In 2004, Emirates signed a 15-year deal worth $160.9m to sponsor Arsenal’s shirts and stadium. Since the agreement was finalised, Arsenal have only won the FA Cup in 2005.
The side reached this season’s Champions’ League semi-finals, but finished 18 points adrift of Manchester United in the Premier League.
While happy sponsoring Arsenal, the airline said it was continuing to seek new tie-ups with other sports clubs.
“Emirates’ sponsorship is a constantly evolving situation and we are always looking at new opportunities and partnerships, at this time we do not have anything to announce,” the spokesperson said.
The comments come days after reports in Italy claimed Emirates was willing to pay Serie A club AC Milan $27.6m to become its full sponsor. Any deal would see the airline’s logo emblazoned on the Italian side’s shirts.