MTN signs Manchester United deal

Johannesburg - MTN has signed a sponsorship agreement with the English soccer club Manchester United, which has some 330m fans worldwide.

The deal, worth an estimated £5m (R55.7m) according to the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph, will give MTN the exclusive right to use the club's branding in promotions for the next three and a half years.

MTN will also be able to offer exclusive mobile content like match highlights, player profiles and ringtones. According to the sporting website Goal.com it will use Manchester United branding on airtime vouchers and receive signed memorabilia to use as competition prizes.

Goal.com estimates there are 10.3m Manchester United fans in South Africa.

"With one of the most diverse support bases in world football, South Africans football fans from all walks of life can identify with Manchester United," Veli Mabena, general manager brand and communications at MTN South Africa, said in a statement.

"The partnership with MTN is a very important step in the club's plan to get closer to its family of fans based all over the world," said David Gill, United's chief executive officer.

The agreement - the third sponsorship deal Manchester has announced in a week - comes at an opportune time for the owners of the club.

The Glazer family is under fire for taking on more than £716m in debt in the five years since taking ownership.

A group of wealthy Manchester United fans, known as the Red Knights, wants to take control of the club, which the Glazers insist is not for sale.

In 2006, MTN signed the largest sponsorship deal by a South African company when it agreed to pay $65m to become Africa's first global sponsor of the 2010 football World Cup.

India's Bharti Airtel, which abandoned a takeover bid of MTN last year, is also a Manchester United sponsor.

The club currently tops the Premier League rankings.

- Fin24.com

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