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Inter shirt sponsor Pirelli confirms iconic deal to end after 2020/21 season

Tyre company’s exit comes amid growing uncertainty over Serie A club’s ownership future.

3 March 2021 Sam Carp

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  • Pirelli has been Inter’s shirt sponsor since 1995/96 season, during which time it has paid more than €230m, according to Calcio e Finanza
  • Club previously linked with ending €10.5m a year deal to find sponsor willing to pay closer to €30m annually

Pirelli chief executive Marco Tronchetti Provera has confirmed that the company will end its near three decade stint as Inter Milan’s shirt sponsor at the end of this season. 

The Pirelli logo has been a mainstay on the Serie A club’s playing shirts since the 1995/96 campaign, during which time the Italian tyre company has paid Inter more than €230 million (US$277.8 million), according to analysis by the Calcio e Finanza website.

The pair’s current deal, which is worth a reported €10.5 million (US$12.6 million) per season plus bonuses, expires at the end of the current campaign, and Tronchetti Provera confirmed to Rai’s Gr Paralmento radio show that the company will not be extending the agreement.

“We are in talks with [Inter chief executives Alessandro] Antonello, [Guiseppe] Marotta and other Inter directors,” he said. “We won’t be Inter’s kit sponsor anymore, but our relationship with the club will continue.”

It has been widely reported for some time that Inter would end their long-term relationship with Pirelli in favour of a more lucrative shirt sponsorship deal, with the club’s owners Suning purportedly valuing the inventory at closer to €30 million (US$36.2 million) a year.

Italian broadcaster Mediaset reported in December that the Evergrande Group, a Chinese property developer, was in pole position to succeed Pirelli.

Still, Pirelli’s exit creates further uncertainty around Inter’s finances amid mounting concerns over Suning’s commitment to the club after Zhang Jindong, the group’s owner, said that the company would “focus on its retail business resolutely”, potentially leaving its non-retail assets at risk.

The Chinese conglomerate, which sold 23 per cent of its shares over the weekend, then ceased operations at its clubs in China, including recently crowned Chinese Super League (CSL) champions Jiangsu FC.

The growing uncertainty prompted Inter to reassure their supporters in the club’s recent half-year financial report, which confirmed that Suning is looking to find ‘suitable partners’ to invest in the team.

‘As part of ongoing capital structure and liquidity management, the business and our ownership are in talks to provide a number of solutions in this respect,’ the club said. ‘Whilst Suning have confirmed their commitment to the ongoing financial support of the club with or without additional external support, it is also sensible and prudent to look outside.

‘With that in mind Suning appointed key advisers in Asia to work with them to find suitable partners, be that with an injection of equity capital or otherwise. Talks with key potential partners in this respect remain ongoing.’

In other European soccer news, Ligue 1 leaders Lille have agreed a multi-year extension of their technical partnership with US manufacturer New Balance, which will continue to provide the French club’s playing kit and training wear.

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