Manchester United set for bidding war between Nike and Warrior


Soon to be Premier League champions, Manchester United, are looking to increase their riches even more as sportswear giants Nike and Warrior are set to fight it out over the club’s kit rights.

The Red Devils current strip deal with Nike nets the club $35.8m per year and is not set to expire until the end of the 2014-15 season. The club is already in the midst of a six month exclusivity period with Nike, however, during which time they can negotiate only with each other. Going into the period United has warned Nike that the club expects a significant increase on the last deal believing it will likely break the $45.7m per year mark.

United vice-chairman Ed Woodward talked about the Nike deal at the end of last year: “We feel we know, with some clarity, the value of our rights, and we are bullish about the abundance of opportunities available to accelerate the growth of this business.”

Warrior is one company creating those opportunities. The Michigan-based corporation burst onto the kit scene in 2011 when it shelled out a British record $38.1m per year to manufacture Liverpool’s strip. Since then Warrior has gone on to sign Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, Newcastle’s Jonas Guiterrez and Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany to endorsement deals in a bid to expand their brand.

Whatever the value of the deal United ends up striking with their next kit manufacturer it will only underscore the commercial drive at the Old Trafford club. Merely two weeks ago Woodward announced an astounding eight year $183m agreement with AON for the naming rights to the Red Devils’ Carrington training ground. Last July, the club went even bigger when it procured a seven year $546m deal with General Motors to have “Chevrolet” on their shirts starting in 2014.

Whether or not Warrior will be the next company to snatch a piece of the world’s second richest club will be decided over the next year. Whereas some fans worry that Warrior does not manufacture as sharp a strip as Adidas or Nike, the extra dough will nevertheless continue to pay down the shrinking debt remaining from the Glazer family’s $1.2b takeover of the club seven years ago.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

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Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)