Dubai’s Emirates Airline looks set to become the brand sponsor of the oldest knockout football competition in the world, the FA Cup.
As part of a reported $46 million (£30 million) three-year deal, the competition will be renamed the Emirates FA Cup.
The FA failed to secure a sponsor for this year’s competition, after drinks giant Budweiser declined to renew its deal and a deal to secure a replacement broke down at the last minute.
The Emirates deal would also be an improvement on the $13 million a year deal with Budweiser, with the Dubai-based carrier set to pay just over $13 million in the deal, which is set to be approved tomorrow (Thursday, April 30) when the FA board meets, according to reports in UK media. However, the deal is not expected to be officially announced until closer to the FA Cup final on May 30 between Arsenal and Aston Villa.
The rebranding of the competition as Emirates FA Cup is a shift from former sponsorship agreements, which have been styled as “in association with”, although a previous deal with Axa was similar when it was known as the Axa-sponsored FA Cup.
FA officials are believed to have travelled to Dubai to seal the three-year deal. In a statement to UK media, an FA spokesman said: “We remain in discussions with a number of parties regarding FA Cup partner opportunities.”
“Emirates can confirm discussions with the English Football Association (FA) regarding a sponsorship partnership is underway. Once an agreement has been reached, we will be in a position to share more information,” a spokesperson told Arabian Business.
Emirates already has a significant sponsorship portfolio in the UK and Europe, already sponsoring Arsenal’s stadium and shirts as well as European giants Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan. The airline, however, recently decided against renewing its sponsorship contract with football governing body FIFA.