22 Jan 2009

AIG to end Manchester United sponsorship

6:12 am on 22 January 2009

Troubled US insurer AIG (American International Group) will not renew its shirt sponsorship of world club soccer champions Manchester United.

The company is already cutting costs in relation to the existing four-year $US100 million deal, which runs until May next year.

The club has a huge global fan base, making it one of the top prizes in sports sponsorship.

Once the world's biggest insurer by market value, AIG averted bankruptcy in September last year with an $US85 billion federal bailout, which later swelled to about $US152 billion.

The company has started selling assets and cutting costs to repay part of the government rescue package.

It says it is reviewing all sponsorships following the Fed bailout and is in the process of eliminating marketing, advertising and hospitality costs related to the existing Manchester United deal.

The BBC reports AIG has already ended a sponsorship deal with the US Davis Cup tennis team.

On Tuesday, Indian company Sahara, which has interests spanning financial services and real estate, said it had been approached by the Premier League champions about becoming a sponsor.

Sahara already sponsors the Indian cricket team. It says it has received an "elaborate" sponsorship proposal from the club.

Manchester United relies on sponsorship for around a third of its revenues. The club pays around 43 million pounds ($US59 million) a year to service 660 million pounds in debt created when US owner Malcolm Glazer bought the club in 2005.