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Stakes high for Napoli, Juventus

Juventus
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By ESPN Staff

'Business as usual' for United

Manchester United insist it is 'business as usual' at Old Trafford despite the near collapse of major sponsors AIG.

The US financial giant was saved by a multi-billion dollar cash injection last night.

What would have been the biggest bankruptcy America has ever known was only avoided due to the US Federal Reserve's active involvement by ploughing in £47billion, forcing 80% of the company into state hands.

However, United, who have just embarked on the third part of a four-year deal with AIG worth a record £56.5million, remain calm about the situation.

''It is business as usual for us,'' said a spokesman for the Glazer family.

Indeed, the Glazers, who have previously attracted a lot of criticism for the massive debt they took on to buy the club in 2004, are eager to confirm the European Cup winners remain on a stable financial footing.

Only last month United signed a massive £9.3million marketing contract with Saudi Telecom, giving it a major foothold in the cash-rich Middle East, with other deals in the process of being negotiated.

And, contrary to recent speculation, the club's corporate boxes are running at 96% of capacity this season, higher than 12 months ago.

''Manchester United is financially strong,'' insisted the spokesman.

''We have not been adversely affected by the credit crunch.''

Having seen their previous deal with Vodafone terminated at short notice, United will be glad they have not found themselves in a similar situation, although there has been some suggestion that the club's recent on-field success could lead to an increase in sponsorship should AIG eventually call time on the current deal.

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