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AIG Not to Renew Sponsorship of Soccer Team Man United

Posted on 21 Jan 2009

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American International Group Inc. (AIG) has said that it won’t renew its sponsorship of English and European soccer champion Manchester United. 
AIG, with operations in 130 countries and more than $1 trillion of assets as of Sept. 30, must repay a $60 billion loan, part of a $150 billion U.S. government rescue. Its deal with United is slated to end in May 2010. 
“We have no plans to renew,” AIG’s Charles Armstrong said in an e-mail today. 
Yesterday, the 17-time English soccer champion said it was speaking to a “select number of companies” about have their names emblazoned on the club’s famous red shirts. Sahara India Pariwar, which sponsors the Indian cricket team, said it had been approached to discuss a deal. 
In spite of the deepening gloom of the global financial crisis, United said that its next sponsorship deal will eclipse the 19 million pounds ($26.6 million) a season it got from AIG, club spokesman Philip Townsend said in an interview yesterday. 
“They’ll have no problem getting a sponsor,” said Nigel Currie, director of sports marketing at Guildford, England-based Brand-Rapport. I think they will be able to get an improved deal because United is so unique, so different and a different class from anyone else in the Premier League. I don’t think they’ll have a problem getting 20 million” pounds. 
Still, John Gladwin of In Motion Sports, which advises clients like U.K. insurer Aviva on sports sponsorship, says United may not meet its expectations. 
“It’s been a brutal year,” said Gladwin, who has worked at U.S. sportswear manufacturer Nike Inc. “It’s probably worth what anyone’s willing to pay and that may not be a figure that United would have been counting on 18 months ago.” 
In October, AIG said it wouldn’t renew its decade long sponsorship of the U.S. Davis Cup tennis team.