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Apr 7, 2013

United signs sponsorship deal with Aon

LONDON -- Manchester United has sold the naming rights to its training ground as part of a sponsorship deal with insurance firm Aon estimated to be worth $230 million, a further sign of the Premier League leader's off-field money-making abilities.

The eight-year agreement with Aon starts in July and includes having the company's logos emblazoned on the training kit at United, which is on course to win a record-extending 20th English title in the coming weeks.

Aon's name currently appears on United's main match kit in a $130 million, four-year deal, but General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet division takes over that sponsorship in a $559 million, seven-year deal from the 2014-15 season.

Financial details of the new Aon deal were not publicly disclosed, but it is estimated to be worth $230 million over eight years and will also see the company provide United with business expertise.

United bought out its previous training kit sponsorship deal with express delivery and freight firm DHL early in a bid to secure more cash, with that agreement having been worth around $65 million over four years.

Although United is now also selling the naming rights to its vast training center at Carrington in south Manchester, the club has no plans to sell the rights to its main stadium.

"Old Trafford will not be sold," United's executive vice chairman, Ed Woodward, said Sunday.

Since being bought by the American Glazer family in 2005, United has been rapidly raising cash through global sponsorship agreements.

United, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, recently forecast record revenue this season of at least $537 million.

The financial strength has been matched on the field this season, with United close to regaining the Premier League trophy from Manchester City, holding a 15-point lead over its neighbor heading into Monday's final derby of the season.

Due to the imminent expectation of silverware after finishing last season empty handed, protests against the Glazer family have been non-existent this year.

Forbes said in January that United's enterprise value, which subtracts debt from equity value, has risen to $3.3 billion, the highest for any sports team in the world.

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