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AC Milan: new Emirates deal will help “to redefine partnership strategy”

(Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Italian Serie A club AC Milan has said the renewal of its sponsorship deal with Emirates will help to “redefine its partnership strategy”.

The club announced the three-year renewal of the long-term deal with the global airline yesterday (Monday). The deal had been due to expire at the end of the 2019-20 season, but will now extend until the end of the 2022-23 campaign.

The deal builds on an association which totals 17 years, 10 of which has seen Emirates hold the designation of front-of-shirt sponsor on AC Milan’s kit.

The brand will continue to display its logo on the front of the kit of Milan’s men’s and youth team sides. But the new deal has a different structure, allowing AC Milan to sell its sleeve, training kit and women’s team sponsorship rights independently for the first time.

Casper Stylsvig, chief revenue officer of AC Milan, told SportBusiness: “This is a very important commercial renewal for the club at a very testing time.

“This deal will allow us to redefine our partnership strategy. This is something we worked very hard on since the arrival of our new owners.

“We identified the need to add to our sponsorship revenue and sponsorship inventory, by having more assets to sell, it is natural that overall commercial revenues can increase.

“Adding more principle partners is in line with the direction the industry is heading.”

As detailed by SportBusiness Soccer the value of the previous contract, which ran from 2015-16, had a base fee of €14m-€15m per year, rising to €18m per season in bonuses.

Italian publication Gazzetta Dello Sport reported that the new agreement has a reduced value at around €10m per season.

In June 2020, AC Milan began an “industry-first” partnership with sports and entertainment agency, Roc Nation under which the latter firm agreed to represent the club in commercial sales.

Due to the long-standing relationship between AC Milan and Emirates, negotiations were conducted directly between the two organisations and had been ongoing for sometime prior to the signing of the contract with Roc Nation. Emirates’ extended commitment to the club comes at a challenging time for the airline industry as it negotiates the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stylsvig said the deal’s activations would extend beyond the front-of-shirt visibility.

“We pride ourselves on inclusivity,” he said. “We’ve taken a leader position in anti-racism fight in Italian football and  the renewal with Emirates gives us the opportunity to work on a number of initiatives to support this.”

SportBusiness understands the club has also recognised Emirates strength in fostering strong links with the business community. The club said the airline had played a pivotal role in facilitating visits to Milan for senior business executives.

Following the deal, AC Milan launched its kit for the 2020-21 season. Currently, Emirates are joined by sportswear brand Puma as part of AC Milan’s sponsorship portfolio. That five-season contract has another three seasons left to run.