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.