By Tom Bannister
Manchester United has signed sponsorship deals with a Chinese company and a Chinese bank, the first time that the footballing giants have struck deals in China. China’s largest soft-drinks manufacturer, Wahaha, and second-largest bank, China Construction Bank, both agreed 3-year contracts with the English Premier League club.
Whilst it’s true that United has many sponsorship arrangements – they recently negotiated a huge deal with car-manufacturer GM – ones with Chinese sponsors are new. United already has a huge fanbase in China and regularly plays pre-season friendlies in the country. Closer ties with the world’s largest growing market are a significant step for the club, which is about to be subjected to stricter financial regulations that require every European club to only spend what they earn.
The Red Devils’ new partners are hardly small-fry either.One out of every eight soft-drinks consumed in China is produced by Wahaha, who also markets a wide-range of desserts and yoghurts. They will now become United’s official Chinese soft-drinks partner – expect to see Wayne Rooney advertising some canned congee.
China Construction Bank is one of the largest banks in the world. Its Chinese customers, numbering over 100 million, will now be able to enjoy inserting a card-shaped image of Rio Ferdinand into ATMs, every footballing fans dream.