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English clubs and sponsors target Asia

Capitalising on the huge potential in Asia and other lucrative emerging markets is something English football clubs and their sponsors have in common. They both want to exploit their brand name and see each other as complementary in achieving this.

sports Updated: Sep 15, 2009 13:09 IST

Capitalising on the huge potential in Asia and other lucrative emerging markets is something English football clubs and their sponsors have in common.

They both want to exploit their brand name and see each other as complementary in achieving this.

The relationship was highlighted by British bank Standard Chartered's four-year 80 million pounds (133 million dollars) sponsorship deal with Liverpool, which has plans to be the biggest and most commercially successful club in the world.

"We see many opportunities to continue growing our business, particularly as Asia, Africa and the Middle East are emerging from the global downturn more quickly than the West," said Standard Chartered chief executive Peter Sands.

"This sponsorship will drive a change in brand recognition in our key markets."

The deal, starting in July 2010, is the largest commercial agreement in Liverpool's history, with the bank's logo and name replacing beer company Carlsberg on the shirts worn by Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and their teammates.

"They operate in a number of markets around the world where we have a vast and growing fan base," said Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow, speaking of the Hong Kong and London-listed bank, which does most of its business outside of Britain.

"They have 1,400 branches in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, 14 million customers and over 70,000 employees. These branches will effectively be a shop window for Liverpool football club around the world."

The deal will also provide a shop window for Standard Chartered, with billions of people having access to Liverpool games via television and the Internet and millions of the club's shirts sold annually.

Club ambassador and former player Kenny Dalglish said the success of Liverpool's Asia tour in July, which took in Thailand and Singapore, was a factor in Standard Chartered's signing.

"Our support out there was highlighted during our pre-season tour, and I think that time helped make up both minds that this would be a fantastic opportunity," he said.

The massive -- and growing -- popularity of English football in Asia has not gone unrecognised by other clubs and companies, with Manchester United and Chelsea both aggressively building their profile in the region.

The Red Devils, who tour Asia every two years, will carry the logo of the Chicago-based Aon Corporation from the start of the 2010-11 season, replacing troubled insurer AIG.

British reports said the deal was also worth 80 million pounds over four years.

United's shirt is considered some of the most valuable space in the sports marketing industry with the club claiming 300 million fans worldwide.

Aon, one of the world's leading risk advisers and human capital consultants, said it was attracted by the exposure it would get from United's big fan base in Asia.

"This partnership allows us to bring the Manchester United brand into our core business areas, and will help us to grow in emerging insurance and reinsurance markets, such as parts of Asia, where the Manchester United brand is very strong," it said on its website.

All Premier League clubs have shirt sponsors, with Chelsea recently renewing its deal with Samsung Electronics, which gives the Korean group exclusive access to players like John Terry and Frank Lampard for marketing purposes.

The partnership has established Chelsea as one of the best known football brands in Korea while Samsung says its turnover in Britain has more than doubled in the past five years.

Everton are big in Asia thanks to Thai sponsors Chang beer, while Arsenal and Manchester City are backed by Gulf airlines Emirates and Etihad, respectively.

In contrast, Aston Villa earn nothing from having children's hospice Acorns on their shirts, giving away the deal for free.