Etihad Airways has signed a £150 million sponsorship deal with Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) to secure naming rights over the club’s stadium.
From next season the City of Manchester Stadium will become the Etihad Stadium.
Etihad - which was last year recognised by the World Travel Awards as the World’s Leading Airline - already pays MCFC some £2.3 million annually for its name to appear on shirts, with the latest deal believed to be worth an additional £15 million a year for 10 years.
James Hogan, chief executive of Etihad Airways, said: “This is a game-changing partnership agreement that redefines the traditional sports sponsorship paradigm.
“It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for two iconic brands that share the same vision to promote far-reaching global awareness and business growth.”
The deal is a significant step towards City complying with new UEFA financial fair play rules, which state European clubs can only spend what they earn.
City owner, Abu Dhabi-based Sheikh Mansour, has spent £1 billion on MCFC since buying the club in September 2008.
An exorbitant wage bill, combined with a huge outlay on transfers, has limited MCFC’s ability to comply with the new rules.
The club lost £121 million last year.
Any club breaking financial fair play rule can be suspended from UEFA sanctioned competitions.
The lucrative Manchester City deal eclipses that of Arsenal, who signed a £100 million agreement over 15 years with rival Emirates Airline in 2006.
City moved their present home from Maine Road in 2003 and have been paying Manchester City Council up to £3 million annually since, with a £1 billion planned redevelopment of the ground - expanding its capacity from 46,000 to 60,000 - already underway.
Blue Moon Rising
Etihad earlier also unveiled a specially liveried A330-200 aircraft in support of its sponsorship deal with Manchester City.
The new ‘Blue Moon Rising’ livery also marks the commencement of double daily flights between Manchester and Abu Dhabi, effective from August 1st, 2011.
Etihad currently flies to the UAE’s capital city seven times a week.
A team of 40 painters worked around the clock for 18 days in Abu Dhabi to paint the A330-200 in the colours of Manchester City.
A total 450 litres of paint were required to complete the job.
The aircraft, which will operate on the Abu Dhabi-Manchester route, will also serve Milan, Frankfurt, Brussels, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Singapore, Istanbul and destinations throughout the Middle East and India
Also in Europe today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to Manchester.
City.Mobi offers the most comprehensive mobile travel guides available, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the City.Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
Manchester.Mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up, offering click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.
Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.
City.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.