Chinese firm Wanda to sponsor Atletico Madrid's new stadium

MADRID (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid’s new stadium will be sponsored by Chinese property company Dalian Wanda Group and will be called the Wanda Metropolitano stadium, club president Enrique Cerezo said on Friday.

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Atletico will move from the Vicente Calderon, their home for the last 50 years, to the new 67,000 capacity ground located to the north east of the Spanish capital in August, 2017.

Wanda has had ties with Atletico since January 2015 when it acquired 20 percent of the club’s shares and began sponsoring the training ground.

“I am honoured to say we have reached an agreement with Wanda to name our new stadium. They are the best partners on our journey to keep working for a better future,” Cerezo told a news conference on Friday.

The new ground’s name is also a reference to the club’s first real stadium, the Metropolitano, where they played their first La Liga games and called home until moving to the Vicente Calderon in the south of the city in 1966.

“The fact Atletico thought of this second name is very exciting. It awakes a lot of sentiment for everyone who has Atletico in their blood,” added striker Fernando Torres, who came through the club’s academy to become captain and returned in 2015.

“Now soon I will be able to tell my grandfather that I played at the Metroplitano.”

The deal was signed on Friday in China by representatives of Wanda and the club’s chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin, who hailed the move to the new stadium as another sign of Atletico’s growth.

Under the guidance of charismatic coach Diego Simeone, a former Atletico midfielder, the club have shed the tag of perennial underachievers to challenge Real Madrid and Barcelona as the top clubs in Spain.

Atletico broke Real and Barca’s 10-year stranglehold on the La Liga title in 2014 and have reached the Champions League final twice in the last three seasons.

“We are very excited by this deal. Atletico and Wanda are growing global brands that want to keep growing and reach even more places,” Gil Marin said.

“Wanda is a strategic partner and our change in stadium is not an isolated event, it’s a step forward to the future.”

Atletico also unveiled a modified badge which will be on their shirts next season.

Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond