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Turkey Tourism eyes major Real Madrid deal as country ramps up marketing spend

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 09: Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring Real's 3rd goal during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 match between Real Madrid CF and CD Leganes at estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 09, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Real Madrid is said to be close to signing a training kit sponsorship with Turkey Tourism worth around €12m ($13.3m) per year.

The negotiations between Turkey’s national tourist agency and the LaLiga club, were revealed by the Spanish sports daily Marca.

The training kit rights were formerly held by the club’s main shirt sponsor Emirates, which renewed its sponsorship of the club in September 2017 for four years from 2018-19 to 2021-22, at about €70m per year.

Turkish businesses and organisations already have strong links with major sports properties in western Europe.

In Spain, Turkish white goods brand Beko is currently the main global partner and exclusive training partner of LaLiga club FC Barcelona, a deal which also includes rights to brand the shirt sleeve of the first team kit.

Turkish Airlines, the country’s 49-per-cent-state-owned carrier, is a title partner Euroleague basketball and an official partner of European Professional Club Rugby.

However, the Real Madrid move would be major departure for Turkey’s tourism authority, which has little or no experience in sponsorships involving major sports events or properties.

According to Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sports Enterprise at Salford University Manchester, the deal may be connected to “significant increases in tourism marketing” which sources tell him have been made by the county this year.

Professor Chadwick told SportBusiness Sponsorship: “At one level, Turkey is obviously a tourism destination with an economy built on tourism. Why wouldn’t Turkey and the Turkish tourism authority advertise the country or promote the country through, for example, a sponsorship deal?

“However, as we know, Turkey’s reputation and international standing is under scrutiny right now, and so what we potentially have here is a deal that distracts attention from the more questionable activities in which Turkey is engaged.

“It’s interesting that it has chosen Real Madrid, which is not just any football club. It’s arguably the world’s richest, most glamorous football club and in simple sponsorship terms there’s this notion of image transfer – you sponsor something glamorous and successful so that all the characteristics and values reflect upon you.

“Some people would say that Turkey is ‘sport washing’ – essentially, what it’s trying to do is sanitise its image and reputation by engaging in a deal with an incredibly high-profile successful football club.”

If confirmed, the Turkey Tourism deal would put the organisation among the top tier of Real Madrid partners with kit branding: Emirates and adidas.