Etisalat has signed a memorandum of understanding for a three-year sponsorship deal with Manchester City, the English Premier League football club owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the Minister of Presidential Affairs. Etisalat will become the exclusive telecommunications partner for Manchester City Football Club, allowing it to offer services such as broadcasting match highlights to mobile subscribers in the 18 countries in which Etisalat operates. The deal is expected to be formalised with a contract later this year.
"Etisalat's agreement with Manchester City reflects our passionate commitment to football, in the UAE and internationally, and to our growing customer base," said Essa Haddad, the chief marketing officer of Etisalat. "Moreover, our objective is to create, nurture and develop the young talent in the UAE, and position the UAE as a leading country on the world sports map." In February, Etisalat signed a four-year sponsorship deal with FC Barcelona, which entitles it and its international subsidiaries to be the "official international telecoms partner" of Barcelona in their respective countries.
Apart from advertising and branding rights, Etisalat can organise two international matches with Barcelona against nominated teams at a location of its choice, providing possibilities to bring the team to the UAE. So far, this last opportunity has not been taken up, but Etisalat has used its partnership to create "Barcelona-themed TV broadcasts" on mobiles in its respective markets, offer SMS alerts to fans, and offer customers the chance to win trips to see Barcelona play. It also has its logo visible in the stadium during Barcelona's matches.
Locally, Etisalat has been a big supporter of football, sponsoring the UAE national team and any local club that plays games internationally. "We have shown unstinting support to grassroots football in the UAE through sponsorship of the President's Cup, the UAE national team, the Etisalat First and Second Leagues and now, the Etisalat Pro League," Mr Haddad said. The latest sponsorship agreement also represents a strengthening of Abu Dhabi's commercial ties with Manchester City. Etisalat is the club's third global partner, along with Etihad Airways and the sportswear company Umbro.
Garry Cook, the chief executive of Manchester City, said sponsorships like these were designed in part to create a more international fan base for the club. "The profile of the club is already growing globally and the ability to effectively expand this growth with tailored communications forms the core of our agreement with Etisalat," he said. "This strategic opportunity allows us to connect to passionate football fans around the Middle East and African regions, providing customised Manchester City content through mobile communications channels."