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Feb 1, 2013

Emirates strikes shirt deal with PSG

LONDON -- Emirates airlines has agreed to a new five-year shirt sponsorship deal in principle with Paris Saint-Germain, the big-spending French team which just signed David Beckham.

Emirates senior vice president Boutros Boutros told The Associated Press on Friday the sponsorship contract is being finalized by lawyers and should be signed this month.

Last year, PSG's Qatari owners were reportedly in sponsorship talks with an unnamed Qatari bank, but Boutros said the club "never went to see another company."

PSG's shirts have featured Dubai-based Emirates since 2006 and the current deal, which expires in 2014, is worth €4 million ($5.5 million) a year.

"We have a new contract for a new period for the coming five years. It's just with the lawyers," Boutros said in a telephone interview. "The principle has already been approved by our senior management and by the club itself."

Boutros would not disclose financial details of the new five-year deal from the 2014-15 season.

But it is not likely to be near the value of the extension Emirates agreed to with Premier League club Arsenal last year. That 150 million pound ($237 million) deal saw the shirt sponsorship extended to the end of the 2018-2019 season and the Emirates Stadium naming rights in north London taken through 2028.

The need for clubs to raise revenue from commercial partners has been magnified by UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules which demand clubs break even on football business.

PSG owner Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani has funded more than $350 million in transfers since he first invested in the club in 2011.

"(Financial) Fair Play is a big factor in the middle of every club and we appreciate and we respect it," Boutros said. "You like to believe it's a perfect deal for us and the club (PSG)."

Boutros said football sponsorships are the best -- and simplest -- way to advertise the Emirates brand.

"I know people criticize us, saying, 'These guys waste money,' but I don't think so," he said. "It pays off very well for us."

Emirates advertising could feature Beckham after the former England captain signed for PSG until the end of the season. Under the terms of the deal with PSG, multiple players have to feature in commercial work, so Beckham couldn't appear on his own.

"I hope one day we will be able to use him," Boutros said.

Beckham was a free agent after leaving the Los Angeles Galaxy in December. And Boutros expects the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star to be central to helping the ambitious club widen its appeal.

"He's not only valuable for the club but the French league itself because unfortunately the French league isn't as successful as the other leagues in Europe," Boutros said. "Already all eyes are on PSG, now having someone like Beckham it means a lot for the club but for the football industry because it's becoming a star in the industry."

And it is his wholesome image that is so appealing, donating his PSG salary to charity and choosing the team because it is close to his family's base in London.

"He is an ambassador of football ... a great brand," Boutros said. "Beckham, his personal life, his ethics, his charisma, are positive for the sport.

"Soccer has been affected by a lot of scandal and rumors. You need more people like Beckham to be an ambassador."

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