Manchester United to get $559 million in GM shirt sponsor deal

CHICAGO Sat Aug 4, 2012 3:52pm EDT

Manchester United's players celebrate after their teammate Shinji Kagawa (centre L) scored a goal during a friendly soccer match against Shanghai Shenhua at the Shanghai Stadium in Shanghai, July 25, 2012. REUTERS/Aly Song

Manchester United's players celebrate after their teammate Shinji Kagawa (centre L) scored a goal during a friendly soccer match against Shanghai Shenhua at the Shanghai Stadium in Shanghai, July 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Aly Song

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Manchester United Ltd.'s deal with General Motors Co. to sponsor the hugely popular soccer club's shirts will bring in $559 million over the agreement's seven-year term, the club said in a regulatory filing Friday.

Terms were first reported by Reuters on July 30.

The disclosure of the record-breaking deal, which will put GM's Chevrolet brand name on the soccer team's famous red jerseys, came as Manchester United supporters called for a boycott of sponsors' products to pressure the club's American owners to shelve a plan to float the club's stock.

Manchester United Supporters Trust, which has 180,000 members, has fought a high-profile campaign against the American Glazer family, which plans to list United on the New York Stock Exchange this month.

The agreement with GM starts in the 2014-2015 season, but the club will start to reap some financial benefits as soon as this year, Friday's filing said.

GM will pay fees of $18.6 million in this year's and next year's season, it said, before paying $70 million in the 2014-2105 season. GM's payments will rise 2.1 percent each season thereafter, through the 2020-2021 season, it said.

U.S. automaker's global marketing chief was ousted in connection with a deal with the popular English soccer club.

GM's payments are more than double the current fee paid by insurance broker Aon.

The agreement was announced the day after the Detroit automaker said it was removing its global marketing chief, Joel Ewanick, because he "failed to meet the expectations that the company has for its employees."

Sources told Reuters Ewanick didn't properly report financial details about the jersey deal.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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