Etihad to pay over $482m over 10 years, get logo on buildings around club’s stadium
English soccer team Manchester City today released plans for the neighbourhood around its Etihad Stadium that would form the central part of a record sponsorship agreement.
City, a Premier League team owned by a billionaire member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, last week signed soccer’s largest sponsorship agreement. Abu Dhabi’s national airline, Etihad, will pay more than £300m ($482m) over 10 years, giving unprofitable City a boost in its bid to meet European soccer’s rules on fiscal responsibility.
Etihad, whose name is on the team’s shirt and stadium, will also put its logo on projects including a new training ground, youth development center, sports science facility and a bridge if plans are approved by local residents and lawmakers as part of a consultation process that began today.
“Our research to date has been painstaking and our planning comprehensive, and whilst our plans would inevitably have a positive impact on both our young and established playing talent, the regenerative and economic impact for the community should not be underestimated,” City’s chief executive officer Garry Cook said in a statement.
The scale of City’s £200m programme, which comes after the club studied more than 30 sports development centers around the world, is the largest of its kind.
Owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has already spent more than $1bn on the club since acquiring it in September 2008.
City needs to convince UEFA, soccer’s governing body in Europe, that the deal with Etihad is at a market rate and not inflated to allow it meet the new cost-control guidelines.
Etihad was founded by Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Mansour’s half-brother. City recorded a £121.3m loss for the year ended May 31, 2010.
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger and Liverpool’s Managing Director Ian Ayre have questioned the City deal in recent days. They said UEFA’s scrutiny of the Etihad project will determine whether its so-called Financial Fair Play program is serious or not. City’s contract dwarfs a 15-year, £100m shirt and stadium contract Arsenal has with Emirates Airline.
The agreement is also worth £10m a season more than the £80m, four-season contracts Manchester United and Liverpool have with AON Corp and Standard Chartered Plc.
City’s management says the scale of its program means it meets fair-value criteria, and also points to the growing visibility of the team around the world. It was the third-most televised English Premier League team last season when it won the F.A. Cup, its first major trophy since 1976, and qualified for the Champions League for the first time with a third-place finish in the league.
City has been acquiring land for the proposed Etihad Campus on the mostly derelict site for the past three years. Plans by the UK government to regenerate the area by building a “super casino” were scrapped several years ago.
The club says 160 construction jobs will be created by its project, and 70 percent of the workforce and the majority of materials, equipment and services will come from the local area.
“It would be complementary to other proposed developments in the area, which would combine together to fulfill our vision for east Manchester as a center for elite sport,” said Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council. City recently agreed to pay the council £20m over five years after it allowed the sale of naming rights to its publicly-owned stadium.For all the latest sports news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Let me get this straight .... Etihad (who is owned by a ruling family) paid City 300 m GBP to City (which is owned by the same family !!). So, can someone explain to me where is the "fairness" in this transaction?