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Manchester United’s $183m training ground sponsorship with AON

Apr 8, 2013, 3:01 PM EDT

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Manchester United may have massive debt but it continues to head one direction – down.

In a ground-breaking deal United has reached an eight year $183m agreement with AON for the naming rights to the Red Devils’ Carrington training ground. Beginning on July 1st the training ground will be known as the “AON Training Complex.” The training ground name rights further buttresses AON’s commercial relationship with United, which includes sponsorship of United’s training kit, their annual summer tours and friendly matches.

The AON deal compliments other major sponsorship agreements that United has procured including the seven year $546m deal they signed with General Motors to have “Chevrolet” on their shirts starting in 2014. An AON source said the company were delighted with the training ground deal. “We are very aware and respectful of the fact some people will continue to call the training complex Carrington but in time, we hope they come to understand what the AON brand stands for,” said the source.

The sale of the Carrington sale prompted suggestions that United could end up selling the name rights to Old Trafford. That worry, however, was quickly dismissed by Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, who confirmed that “Old Trafford will not be sold.”

Since borrowing $787m to complete their $1.2b takeover of the club seven years ago the Glazer family has become increasingly active in reducing Manchester United’s debt. In addition to massive sponsorship deals the decision to go public on the New York Stock Exchange last August has (as of February 2013) already cut the club’s debt to $550m, down 17 percent from a year earlier.

Manchester United supporters will hope that the next major sponsorship deal the club agrees to is an extension of the current $463m kit supply deal with Nike. February marked the start of an exclusive six-month negotiating period between United and Nike where part of the alleged agenda was to fund a bid to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid.

For now the new AON deal ensures that if the Portuguese winger does make a dramatic return to Old Trafford, United already have an additional $23m per year to fund his wages.

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