Man Utd, Premier League cash in on English football's appeal
LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United unveiled two new sponsorships in China on Tuesday and the Premier League agreed a partnership with brewer Carlsberg, underlining the global appeal of English football.
United, English champions a record 19 times, signed separate agreements in China with soft drinks manufacturer Wahaha and China Construction Bank in financial services.
The Premier League is available to television viewers in around 720 million homes around the world, and interest is high in Asia.
Top English clubs have cultivated their far-flung fan bases by going on overseas tours in pre-season. United played in Shanghai last August and claim to have more than 100 million followers in China.
As part of the sponsorship deal, China Construction Bank will produce a Manchester United branded credit card for the club's Chinese fans.
"Through our relationship with CCB we hope not only to give fans an excellent product, but also bring them closer to the club they so passionately support," said United Commercial Director Richard Arnold.
Danish brewer Carlsberg, which has sponsored European football in various ways for 40 years, cited the Premier League's international appeal as the reason for entering a three-year partnership.
The deal is believed to be worth 8 million pounds a year and will allow Carlsberg to call itself the official beer of the Premier League.
The League had an similar agreement with U.S. brewer Budweiser from 2007-10 but does not have a current partnership in the sector.
"The Premier League is quite an iconic league now across the world," said Carlsberg spokesman Ben Morton, saying its strength in Asia was a particular attraction.
United, listed on the New York Stock Exchange last August, generated more revenue from commercial activities than they did from broadcast contracts and match day sales in their last financial year.
The 20-team Premier League is currently putting the finishing touches to its new international television contracts to take effect from the start of next season.
Television deals overall could yield as much as 5 billion pounds over the next three years. The domestic deal alone is worth 3 billion pounds, a 70 percent increase on the agreement that expires at the end of this season.
(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by Louise Heavens)
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