Sometimes when you put two and two together, you make four. And this is one of those occasions.
On Tuesday Major League Soccer announced that Etihad Airways are now the official airline of the league, as a “multi-year partnership” between the league and the United Arab Emirates based airline is now in place.
Etihad are the flag carrier of the UAE, where Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed al Nahyan is deputy prime minister, and it is Sheikh Mansour who is buying and setting up Major League Soccer’s 2oth franchise, New York City FC. Connecting the dots, his country’s airline will now be pumping plenty of money into the league for the foreseeable future.
MLS announced on Tuesday that a deal has been struck with Etihad to became the league’s newest sponsor. Major League Soccer stated that “Etihad Airways and MLS will also work together on a number of activations and initiatives including community programs, as well as hosting competitions and promotions for flights and holidays with MLS fans.”
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways had the following to say: “Etihad Airways has a growing portfolio of sports properties that cover the globe and we’re delighted to now add Major League Soccer, a leading international sports brand, to this group.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber is delighted to enter the partnership with Eithad, as the league continues to grow its outreach by linking up with a respected global brand, as Etihad were voted the ‘World’s Leading Airline’ by World Travel Awards for five-straight years from 2009-13.
“We are excited to welcome Etihad Airways as the official airline partner of Major League Soccer in the United States and are proud to be the first major sports association in the U.S. for such a prestigious global company. On behalf of our clubs, our players and our millions of fans, we welcome Etihad Airways to the MLS family and look forward to working with them to help grow their business in this region.”
But what does it mean for MLS to partner with Eithad?
It certainly means the league will benefit financially from the deal, which is paramount to the development of not only MLS but also soccer in North America overall. Also, it strengthens the bond between Mansour and the league, and it proves that the man who owns three other soccer clubs, Manchester City, Melbourne Heart and Al Jazira, is keen to pour money into the league as well as benefiting from NYC FC’s creation.
It is a win, win for everyone concerned, as Mansour’s glowing portfolio aims to reach more markets across the globe. Bringing a second MLS side to New York and more investment into the league is likely to make other MLS owners extremely happy, and get the franchise up and running on everyone’s good side.
Is this just the start of MLS driving its outreach to attract huge global brands?