ManU "may still be smarting from its eviction" in the Champions League, but the club "is hoping to recover financially with what could be the most valuable sponsorship deal in sporting history," according to David Robertson of the LONDON TIMES. Insiders said execs from ManU and Nike will "begin detailed talks" on the merchandising and sponsorship contract "imminently." ManU signed a 13-year deal with Nike in '02 that was worth £303M plus 50% of profits from merchandise sold. The deal is "forecast to be worth" approximately £38M ($56.7M) this season. Although the existing contract does not end until '15, Nike and ManU have "just entered a six-month exclusive renegotiating period." Sources said that Nike was "likely to try to complete a deal during the exclusivity period." N.Y. investment bank Jefferies Int'l has "estimated that the new arrangement could be worth" £61M ($91M) to ManU next year. Financial services firm Nomura believes that it could be worth £74M ($110M). It was suggested last year that ManU was looking for a 10-year deal with Nike worth £1B ($1.5B), but "this may be ambitious if rumours about the club’s recent underperformance at the cash register are true." Insiders said ManU's merchandising revenue "has been surpassed by Barcelona and Real Madrid and this could have implications for the Nike deal." A Wall Street source said, "United’s performance has lagged some of the other top European clubs and that has been reflected in merchandising sales. This is likely to be reflected in the sponsorship deal. Talks on the new deal will be a delicate mating dance" (LONDON TIMES, 3/11).
RONALDO ON RADAR: In London, Ian Ladyman reported ManU officials "discussed a deal" to bring back Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo at a meeting with Nike Friday. They were "due to discuss extending their sponsorship deal," and also on the agenda was the subject of funding a bid to sign Ronaldo (DAILY MAIL, 3/8).
Austrian energy drink producer Red Bull "has officially entered German hockey and will take over German Hockey League (DEL) club EHC Munich on May 1," according to the SALZBURGER NACHRICHTEN.The shares of current club shareholder Michael Phillips "will be acquired by the company of billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz." Red Bull "signed on as the team's title sponsor and saved it from bankruptcy" in May. A club statement said: "EHC Red Bull Munich will therefore stay in Munich and participate in the upcoming '13-14 DEL season." The EHC Munich will become the second Red Bull-owned hockey team besides Austrian side EC Red Bull Salzburg (SALZBURGER NACHRICHTEN, 3/11).
RENAULT ENGINES: GLOBAL MOTORSPORT MEDIA reported Red Bull "is not ruling out rebranding its Renault engines in future." French engine supplier Renault is regarded as Red Bull's works partner. However, Red Bull Racing Team Owner Mateschitz has admitted that "the team's Renault engines could be rebranded, as the title sponsorship with new title partner Infiniti is further ramped up." Mateschitz said, "Yes, at some point there could be a Red Bull-Infiniti" (GMM, 3/10).
BT is the new title sponsor of the Great CityGames Manchester. The event, now in its fifth year, will be held on May 25 and will see Olympic and Paralympic champions competing in the city center. This will be the first year Paralympians will compete. Olympic Gold Medalists Greg Rutherford (GB) and Felix Sanchez (Dominican Republic), Paralympic Gold Medalist Alan Oliveira (Brazil) and Silver Medalist Stefanie Reid (GB) will compete. Other athletes will be announced in the coming weeks. A crowd of 20,000 people is expected (BT).
Swiss watch manufacturer TAG Heuer will continue to supply the official timepiece for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team, and the partnership will be extended to include McLaren Automotive. The partnership will support McLaren's "Young Driver Development Programme," a program to identify and support young drivers. As part of the new partnership, driver Sergio Perez will be an ambassador for the Swiss brand, together with teammate Jenson Button. The TAG Heuer logo will be visible on the rear spoiler of McLaren cars, as well as on the drivers' suits and team apparel (McLaren Mercedes).
Germany-based logistics company DHL and F1 have extended their global partnership. The deal, which will see DHL maintain its official logistics and global partner designations, continues a partnership that began in '04. DHL will also continue to sponsor the DHL Fastest Lap Award in recognition of the driver who delivers the highest number of fastest laps throughout each FIA F1 World Championship season (F1). ... Sweden-based brand Stena signed on as title sponsor of the Stena Sailing Team, which is skippered by Swedish match racer Johnie Berntsson (Stena).