Emirates Airline and AC Milan have finally confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in soccer, after the airline signed a contract on Friday that will see it sponsor the club from the end of its current contract with Bwin.
Emirates is best known in soccer for its sponsorship of English soccer club Arsenal, where its branding appears both on the shirts of Arsene Wenger's team and on the stadium, to whcih it holds the naming rights in a long-term deal. However, Emirates also sponsors German side Hamburg, Paris Saint-Germain in France and Greek side Olympiakos.
Each of those teams has appeared in the pre-season Emirates Cup hosted by Arsenal each season, and AC Milan is expected to follow suit this summer.
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The airline's partnership with AC Milan is worth US$82 million over the next four years - one of the largest sponsorship agreements in European soccer - but sources on both sides insist it does not pre-empt a takeover bid for the Italian club from the airline's owners.
Emirates' deal with Arsenal is worth UK£100 million (US$156 million) over 15 years. Arsenal's marketing director, Angus Kinnear, has previously stated that the club hopes to sign more partnerships of a similar level.
For an exclusive interview with Arsenal marketing director Angus Kinnear on the value of the Emirates Cup to the club, click here.