Manchester United agree record $1.3 billion Adidas kit deal

Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:43am EDT
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By Neil Maidment

LONDON (Reuters) - Adidas AG will pay a record 750 million pounds ($1.3 billion) to supply Manchester United with shirts and kit, underlining the enduring pulling power of the former English soccer champions despite a dismal last season.

The 10-year agreement announced on Monday is a world record for a soccer club and more than double the previous biggest, a 31 million pounds-a-year deal the German sportswear company is reported to have with Spanish side Real Madrid.

Its total value is also just 40 million pounds less than United's owners the Glazer family paid for the club in 2005, highlighting how it will help to underwrite the rebuilding of the team under new manager Louis van Gaal.

The Dutchman takes charge of the Old Trafford club on Wednesday just days after leading the Netherlands to third place at the World Cup.

Nike, the world's largest sportswear group, had sponsored United since 2002 but earlier this month pulled out of a bidding war with Adidas, meaning the 2014-15 season will be the U.S. firm's last as a partner of the 20-time English champions.

Adidas, which also has similar deals with elite European clubs including England's Chelsea, Germany's Bayern Munich and Italy's AC Milan, takes over the contract from 2015/16.

The deal with arguably the world's most popular team is a coup for the German firm, protecting its leading position in a soccer market in which Nike has made strong inroads over the last 20 years.

"This collaboration marks a milestone for us when it comes to merchandising potential. We expect total sales to reach 1.5 billion pounds during the duration of our partnership," Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer said in a statement.   Continued...

Footballs from Adidas, the world's second largest sports apparel firm, are displayed before the company annual general meeting in the northern Bavarian town of Fuerth near Nuremberg May 8, 2014.     REUTERS/Michaela Rehle