The Fire are looking for a jersey sponsor before the March 17 MLS kick-off (Getty)

(WFI) Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire are without a shirt sponsor heading into the 2011 season.

Best Buy will not renew its sponsorship of the franchise, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“We got a heads up that they were looking at a different direction,” team president Julian Posada told the newspaper.

The retail giant’s 3-year, $7.5 million deal accounted for the entire team’s salaries save designated players Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Nery Castillo and Freddie Ljungberg.

“It won’t break the company by any means,” Posada said, “but it’s one of those things that’s nice to have and the better the partner, the better (for the club).

The 2011 season begins March 17. Thirteen of the 18 teams will sport shirt sponsors unless the Fire can land a deal before then.

“Being selfish, I would love someone from our hometown,” Posada was quoted. “We have a lot of great companies in the city.”

Morrisons Considers Suing FIFA Over Lost Investment

UK supermarket chain Morrisons says its ownership will consider suing FIFA over the Dec. 2 decision that cost England the 2018 World Cup.

The grocer reportedly poured £1m into the failed £15 million bid, an amount Morrisons now wants FIFA to match.

“The Football Association team put together a fantastic bid. On behalf of our customer we are disappointed that the merits of the bid were not recognized by FIFA, which clearly was intent on locating the 2018 World Cup in an emerging country,” marketing director Michael Bates was quoted by Marketing Week.

“As we think the decision making process was unfair, we have instructed lawyers in Switzerland to examine our options under Swiss law.

“We hope FIFA will do the right thing and offer £1m to be invested in grassroots football.”

No word yet from FIFA as to whether such funds are forthcoming.

Glazers Look to Nike for Kit Deal, Debt Relief
Manchester United’s owners is eying a world-record kit deal with Nike as a means to climb its way out of debt.

The Daily Telegraph reported this week that the Glazers are hoping to one-up Nike’s €42.6 million-a-year sponsorship of the French Football Federation when they begin renewal negotiations with the sporting giant.

United signed its existing £302.9m deal with Nike in 2002, a partnership worth £25m annually and set to expire in 2015.

The American owners reportedly have the staggering figure of £450m in mind this time around, an amount that would certainly go a long way toward shoring up their sizeable debt. A £526m bond comes due in 2017, and the Glazers must in the meantime pay £45m a year in interest.

They also owe a further £225m in high-interest PIK loans. These are secured against their shareholding in United and now accrue at an annual interest rate of 16.25% per annum.

No deal imaginable could erase such a financial burden, but the family is hoping a follow-up to the French federation’s success can help.

The world-record deal signed in 2008 is worth €320m over 7½ years. The French national team will swap its Adidas shirts for Nike next year.

Guardiola Defends Barcelona Shirt

The Glazers are under mounting pressure to reduce the club’s huge debt (Getty)

Deal
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola says his club’s partnership with Qatar Foundation is the right move in this economic crunch.

“We must take into account that the numbers at the club are not quite right, and I am hoping that they will recover and improve,” Guardiola, also an overseas bid ambassador for the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid, was quoted by Qatari media.

The comments came soon after Barcelona inked a record €127 million deal with the education-focused non-profit organisation, marking the first time the Spanish football franchise has taken money for a shirt advertisement.

The club actually pays UNICEF to use its logo in current kits, an arrangement that could soon be altered.

“UNICEF is looking forward to the next stage of the collaboration and is exploring various options,” UNICEF officials said in a statement soon after Friday’s announcement.

Barcelona finance VP Javier Faus has said Nike is working on a logo that will incorporate both parties. The move comes in the wake of news reports that the club is saddled with debts in excess of €300m.

Arsenal Entrusts Agency with Emirates Cup Rights
Sports media agency MP & Silva will distribute international rights for the Emirates Cup. Arsenal FC announced the five-year deal that will bring coverage of its annual pre-season tournament to audiences worldwide.

“Entering its fifth year, the Emirates Cup is now firmly positioned as the leading tournament of its type and we are delighted to be extending our strong and successful relationship with MP & Silva to encompass these rights,” the club’s COO Tom Fox said.

“Through this partnership we plan to build strong relationships with the international broadcast community and further develop the Arsenal brand in global markets.”

MP & Silva already jointly produces both the club’s official international TV programming and its new multi-platform Arsenal Media.

“As we said when we launched our original partnership, we share the same vision and objectives as Arsenal,” said MP & Silva CEO Andrea Radrizzani.

“We look forward to bringing our expertise to bear in delivering Emirates Cup to Arsenal’s estimated 30 million supporters in the United Kingdom and overseas.”

This summer’s tournament saw AC Milan, Scottish powerhouse Celtic and Champions League semi-finalists Lyon square off against their English hosts. Arsenal hoisted the trophy at the end of the two-day event.

IMG Charged with Indian Football’s Future
IMG Reliance will handle commercial rights to Indian football through 2025.

The All India Football Federation announced that the 15-year agreement will see the sports management giant overhaul the game at every level throughout the cricket-obsessed subcontinent.

“The AIFF has a vision for the sport of football in the country,” AIFF president Praful Patel said in a statement.

The deal will focus on the development of an elite-level professional league as well as efficient talent scouting to source its clubs.

“We are incredibly excited about the future of football in India,” said IMG CEO Ted Forstmann.

“In a country with a population of 1.2 billion people and incredibly talented athletes, it’s a realistic goal that India aims for a future World Cup berth.”

IMG also announced a similar deal this summer with the Basketball Federation of India.

By INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson

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