English soccer club Chelsea have agreed a new five-year shirt sponsorship deal with the Yokohama Rubber Company.
The Japanese group, best known for its Yokohama Tire brand, will have its logo on the front of the Premier League leaders' matchday shirts from the start of the 2015/16 season. The sponsorship runs from the first team through all youth levels of the club.
Reports in England suggest the deal could be worth close to UK£40 million a year, which would be the second most lucrative in the English game behind Manchester United's partnership with carmaker Chevrolet. According to the Daily Telegraph, this would more than double Chelsea's current deal with Korean consumer electronics brand Samsung.
"We believe that Yokohama will play a key role in helping us drive our global expansion in international markets such as the US, where they have operated with distinction for many years," said Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck. "Also, of course, Chelsea having such an esteemed and historic Japanese company as our partner enables us to accelerate our development in their home market too."
Buck also paid tribute to the contribution made by Samsung, while a statement from the Roman Abramovic-owned club noted the importance of the deal in helping Chelsea meet Uefa Financial Fair Play standards.
Tadanobu Nagumo, the Yokohama chairman who flew to London to formally complete the deal, added: "This shirt partnership with Chelsea will give Yokohama an opportunity to showcase our company to a huge worldwide audience thanks to Chelsea’s ever-growing popularity. We see our partnership with Chelsea as an integral part of our global expansion plans as we enter Phase IV of our Grand Design 100 plan. We look forward to launching our iconic new Chelsea Yokohama shirt this summer."
Chelsea, who are currently five points clear at the top of the Premier League, will play London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the final of the Capital One Cup at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.