By Keith Weir
LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - English soccer’s reigning champions Manchester United are talking to several sportswear companies about a new kit supply deal to replace one with Nike that expires next year, the club said on Tuesday.
Manchester United had opened talks with Nike last year on a renewal, but the club has yet to clinch an agreement with the U.S.-based company. The club has now confirmed that they have also started talks with rival suppliers.
“We currently are in discussions with multiple parties regarding our global retail, apparel and product licensing business starting in the 2015-16 season,” a United spokesman said.
“This process is a routine practice used for our global and regional sponsorship deals and helps us to maximise the value/ structure of the club’s partnerships,” he added.
The Nike deal generated revenue of 38 million pounds ($63.02 million) in the 2012-13 season, including United’s share of the profit from global sales of shirts and other merchandise.
British newspapers have reported that United were seeking to generate upwards of 60 million pounds a year from a new contract. Nike would have the right to match any offer made by another company for the United contract.
“United are a valued partner and discussions are ongoing with them,” a Nike spokesman said.
Nike and its German rival Adidas are the two dominant companies in the soccer kit market.
However, third-ranked Puma boosted its standing on Monday when it announced it had ousted Nike as the partner for Premier League club Arsenal.
United, owned by the American Glazer family, are having a poor season by their own high standards and are facing a battle to qualify for the lucrative Champions League.
However, they remain one of the world’s most popular soccer teams. They proved their appeal to sponsors in 2012 when they agreed a record $559 million deal with General Motors to have the Chevrolet brand on their shirts for seven seasons starting from 2014-15.