New Emirates deal to boost Arsenal transfer kitty
By ROB HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) Emirates airline has signed a new 150 million pound ($239 million) sponsorship deal with Arsenal, despite the Premier League club's failure to win a trophy since the original agreement began in 2006.
The naming rights for the Emirates Stadium have been extended from 2021 until 2028, while the Dubai-based carrier's name will appear on Arsenal shirts for an extra five years - through to the end of the 2018-2019 season.
Arsenal will receive around 25 million pounds ($40 million) during the summer transfer window in 2013 ahead of the official start of the new deal, providing an opportunity for thrifty manager Arsene Wenger to invest in his squad.
"It is all about giving us the resources in what we believe is a responsible and well managed way, to be able to invest in what we put onto the pitch for our fans," Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said Friday. "We have been able to talk to Emirates about the payment terms and bring some of them forwards, so that we will have additional money in this financial year which will be able to invest in the summer."
Some fan groups have been calling on Wenger to spend more on the team, which hasn't won a title since the 2005 FA Cup and last won the Premier League in 2004.
"We would love them to win and we hope this amount of money we are paying now will help them to invest more," Emirates senior vice president Boutros Boutros said.
But Emirates is pleased that Arsenal continues to appear in the Champions League alongside Europe's elite clubs, with the side reaching the knockout stage for the 13th straight year on Wednesday.
"I am looking forward with real confidence and optimism to what we are able to achieve over the next five years and absolutely it has to include winning trophies," Gazidis said.
Arsenal said the deal is football's second-biggest shirt sponsorship, only surpassed by Manchester United's seven-year, $559 million agreement with General Motors' Chevrolet brand.
"This is as dramatic as the move (in 2006) to the new stadium was in driving the club forwards," Gazidis said.
But Arsenal, which is owned by American sports tycoon Stan Kroenke, significantly trails United not in only terms of silverware but also as off-field money-makers.
Arsenal's commercial revenue in the 2011-12 financial year was 34.2 million pounds (about $55 million), but United's was 117.6 million pounds (about $190 million).
Arsenal commercial director Tom Fox, however, predicted that commercial revenue would also soon exceed 100 million pounds ($160 million) annually.
"I think there's a huge opportunity for us," Fox said. "We are three years into this journey and there are other clubs that have been investing in it in the longer term ... we are going to go as far as we can and I can absolutely see us going over 100 million at some point."
Also Friday, Emirates said it is hoping to extend its shirt sponsorship with Paris Saint-Germain, which started in 2006, despite reports in September that the club's Qatari owners could sign a deal with a company from their homeland.
"We still have this year so we are now in final negotiations ... we are almost finalizing the deal, so I don't see any reason (not to)," Emirates VP Boutros said.
"We have no indication from Paris Saint-Germain they are talking to anyone else," he added.
Updated November 23, 2012