LONDON Arsenal have agreed a new 150 million pound sponsorship deal with airline Emirates which the Premier League club hopes will help give it the firepower to win a trophy for the first time since 2005.
The enhanced agreement strengthens existing ties between the north London club and the Dubai-based airline.
A five-year extension of the shirt sponsorship will run until the end of the 2018-19 season. Arsenal's 60,000-seat home will also continue to be known as the Emirates Stadium until 2028, the English club said on Friday.
Emirates have had their name on Arsenal's famous red and white shirts since they moved to their new stadium in 2006.
Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis said the additional investment would help the team to compete with the best in England and in continental Europe.
"We think this is a terrific deal which gives us great value for all the rights included in it," Gazidis told reporters, adding it would make Arsenal one of the top five clubs globally in terms of revenue.
"We think that gives us a platform to be able to reinvest in the team and push the team forward," he added.
The agreement includes some money to be made available as early as the next English summer to help hire players.
Arsenal, majority owned by American Stan Kroenke, are a good illustration of some of the problems clubs face in trying to operate with sound finances, while keeping fans happy.
The team have been English champions 13 times but their last league title was in 2004 and their last major trophy of any kind was the FA Cup in 2005.
Frustrated fans, long accustomed to success, complain about high ticket prices and the departure of top players such as Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Robin Van Persie to Manchester United.
MANCHESTER UNITED BEAT RIVALS
The Arsenal deal is lucrative but bundles together shirt and stadium rights that other clubs sometimes sell separately,
Premier League rivals Manchester United (MANU.N) signed a record $559 million deal with General Motors in August to have the Chevrolet brand on their shirts for seven years from 2014. United also have a separate sponsorship deal for their training kit, testament to the club's global appeal.
Emirates also sponsors shirts at AC Milan and Paris St Germain and are one of a number of Middle Eastern airlines to back major European soccer clubs.
Emirates was close to agreeing an extension with the Paris club despite recent reports that it would switch to a Qatari financial institution, said Boutros Boutros, Emirates' senior vice-president, corporate communication.
Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways sponsors English champions Manchester City, while Barcelona will have the Qatar Airways name on their shirts for next season after long eschewing corporate branding.
Arsenal have remained one of the top English clubs and this week qualified for the last 16 of the European Champions League for the 13th consecutive season.
Emirates said Arsenal remained a valued long-term partner despite their recent failure to lift a trophy.
"We would love to see the club doing better," said Boutros Boutros. "Arsenal through the years have proved and demonstrated that they are a strong player and managed to maintain their fan base and extend it," he added.
(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by Neil Maidment)
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