London: English Premier League champions Manchester United extended their relationship with Vodafone by signing a new US$ 62 million, four-year sponsorship deal with the mobile phone giants on Monday. The current $51 million deal between the parties expires in May 2004. However, at the news conference in London, Manchester United chief executive David Gill denied any talk of a takeover bid from American sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer - the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner has recently increased his share in Manchester United to just over 14 per cent. United chief executive David Gill emphasised the importance of the deal to the club's long-term success and player-attracting abilities, in contrast to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's 'quick-fix' solution at Chelsea. "We look at it in a slightly more professional and considered manner, we look at it over the short, medium and long term. This deal we are announcing will help make sure that we can continue to invest in players and other aspects of the business as necessary, but we don't look at it in terms of in order to buy that player we have to sign that deal," said Gill. After Sunday's defeat at Stamford Bridge, it has been suggested the champions are struggling to compete with Abramovich's spending power off the pitch as well his players' skills on it. However, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson sees no threat to United's financial clout from the 'Roman Army'. "Well, what Chelsea have achieved is good for them and I don't think you should deny anyone progress. If they feel the right and have the resources to progress themselves as a football club, how can you deny them that opportunity," said Ferguson. Manchester United club captain Roy Keane is in no doubt the deal will stand both partners in good stead in the future. "Well, we obviously hope there is going to be money available to the manager because we are always looking to improve and I think it gives stability to both Manchester United and Vodafone. Obviously I think as much a benefit it is to Manchester United, I am sure it will be good news for Vodafone as well," said Keane. For Vodafone chief marketing officer Peter Bamford, it certainly is good news. For the next four years, the mobile phone giants will have the right to plant their label all over the world's most popular football club.
Topics : Football