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Man Utd unlikely to lose their shirts as sponsor struggles

SoccerNews in English Premier League 16 Sep 2008

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Manchester United are set to emerge unscathed even if shirt sponsors AIG (American International Group) follows US bank Lehman Brothers in going bust.

United have two years left on a club record four-year deal with the insurance giants worth 56.5 million pounds (100.57 million dollars).

However, on Monday AIG shares plummeted 61 percent to 4.76 dollars. In all, they have lost 93 percent of their value in a year.

United, one of the world's best-known football clubs, are the current English and European champions and, despite current worldwide financial problems caused by the 'credit crunch', at least one observer believes they remain an attractive proposition for potential backers.

“Shirt sponsorship values appear to be holding their own well in the Premier League and also in Germany,” said Simon Chadwick, professor of sports business strategy at Coventry University, central England.

He added: “It may be an issue outside the Premier League but my view is that if Manchester United do have to find a new sponsor, they would almost certainly pay as much and quite probably more.

“United are currently European champions and Premier League champions, so they could not be in a better position.

“The issue for United would be finding the right sponsor with a global operation as a partner, to give the club global coverage, something AIG does perfectly at the moment.”

Chadwick added United's Premier League rivals West Ham would not take long to recover from the collapse of their shirt sponsor XL Holidays, which went out of business last week just a year into a three-year deal with the London club worth 7.5 million pounds (13.35 million dollars).

“There will be some initial cost to West Ham as they have to find a new sponsor but in my view they are likely to find a partner who will pay as much,” he said.

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