LONDON: Arsenal have followed in the footsteps of Manchester United and Manchester City – not to mention Real Madrid and Barcelona – by rewriting sponsorship standards in a new £150m deal with Emirates airline writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The deal extends the North London club’s  shirt sponsorship to 2019 and naming rights to the Ashburton Grove stadium until 2028. In total, the agreement brings in £30m a season for Arsenal in terms of shirt and stadium sponsorship.

The new contract is one of the biggest in English football and maintains the bar-raising exercises being accomplished by Europe’s leading clubs just as European federation UEFA introduces its financial fair play rules and regulations.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said: “The original deal with Emirates was a key facilitator of our move from [previous stadium] Highbury and this next phase of our relationship will be just as critical to keep us at the top of the game in England and Europe.”

Gunners’ fans will want to see the contribution to long-term financial stability reflected in extra investment in the playing squad, in terms of both transfer fees splashed and wage levels paid.

Emirates signed its first sponsorship agreement with Arsenal in 2004, providing the airline with naming rights to its then new stadium until 2021 and a shirt sponsorship that began in the 2006 season.

In 2011, Barcelona signed what was then the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deal in the game with Qatar Foundation worth £24m-a-year which will be translated next season into the  Qatar Airways label; Manchester United have signed a seven-year, £45m-a-year shirt-sponsorship deal with Chevrolet; in September Real Madrid extended their £27m-a-year partnership with Adidas until 2020; last year, Manchester City signed a 10-year deal reportedly worth £400m with Etihad for shirts and stadium name.

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