Manchester: Manchester United have agreed a 40 million-pound ($66 million) deal with express delivery and freight firm DHL to become English football's first training kit sponsor.
The four-year deal with the subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Post AG surpasses the value of most Premier League rivals' main jersey deals in the latest sign of the club's global commercial appeal.
"This deal breaks new ground in the English game," United chief executive David Gill said on Monday.
The DHL deal is worth 10 million pounds ($17 million) annually - half the value of the main shirt sponsorship, which Chicago-based insurance broker Aon Corp. has in a four-year deal worth around 80 million pounds ($130 million).
"Whilst the on pitch exposure that Aon continue to generate is two hours of prime TV with four billion viewers a year, equally the exposure generated in between times with training coverage, media exposure and also in the retail market place around the world is very significant," United commercial director Richard Arnold told The Associated Press.
DHL, which has been United's official logistics partner for a year, will only appear on training kit worn by United players ahead of domestic fixtures. Arnold said UEFA rules prevent them selling space on the training kit for Champions League matches.
The DHL announcement came a week after it emerged that United's owning Glazer family have submitted an application for a partial flotation on the Singapore stock exchange to help cut the club's debts of more than 500 million pounds ($825 million).
The record 19-time English champions are yet to officially confirm the initial public offering, which will see the American owners diluting their 100 percent ownership.
But Arnold stressed the importance of Asia to the club's financial growth on the day United also announced a communications deal in a region where the major economies escaped the worst of the global economic crisis.
"For any globally significant company, the Far East economically is becoming increasingly significant — it is driving GDP (gross domestic product) growth worldwide," Arnold said in a telephone interview.
"There are 190 million of our 330 million family of fans living in Asia. So for us it has a particular importance and the club has a long history of the Far East. When you combine those things, globally there is a lot of attention on Asia."
The communications deal announced Monday saw Vietnamese mobile telecommunications company Beeline sign up to distribute video and news content on phones in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for three years.
The Glazers, who also own the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have been steadily raising cash at United by negotiating regional sponsorship agreements. Commercial revenue now exceeds 100 million pounds ($165 million) each year at Old Trafford.
"We strongly believe in a virtuous circle, having a strong commercial model, driving the availability of funds for the best players in the world, which allows us to play not only attacking and attractive football, but successful football," Arnold said. "It leads to a strong and growing fan base which leads to strong financial revenues."