Manchester United today announced a five-year partnership with a Russian airline who will act as their ‘official carrier’, adding to a growing list of international business deals.
In a star-studded Old Trafford press conference attended by new manager David Moyes, the entire first-team squad and Reds legends Andy Cole and Bryan Robson, it was revealed they had teamed up with Russian airline Aeroflot.
The Moscow-based airline will provide travel for the team where appropriate and help United explore the Russian market further – where it is thought they already have close to 18million followers.
Richard Arnold, Group Managing Director of Manchester United, sat alongside Moyes and CEO of Aeroflot Vitaly Saveliev as they announced the partnership with the airline – which is said to offer the fastest route between Europe and Asia via Moscow.
“Manchester United and Aeroflot share many of the same values and we are pleased to be welcoming such a like-minded company to our family of sponsors,” he said.
Speaking on Manchester United’s past relationship with Russia, he referred back to a footballing memory, reinforcing the pressure that the new manager, who sat alongside him, faces at the club.
“Of course the most memorable occasion in Russia was in 2008, when Ryan and Rio lifted the Champions League for the third time on that dramatic night in the Moscow rain,” he said.
“That evening, Russia brought us luck, and I’m confident our friends at Aeroflot will do the same during our partnership.”
Mr Saveliev, who spoke in Russian with journalists listening to an English translation through headsets, said the partnership was based on shared values, including teamwork, pride in heritage and an innovative and forward-looking attitude.
He said: “We are long-standing, proud, supporters of Russian sport and it’s a significant step for our first global partnership to be with one of the most successful and well-loved football clubs in the world.”
Mr Arnold and Mr Savaliev signed the contract and shook hands at the event, where videos and images of the company’s aircraft were shown from a projector – with a plane even appearing to be on the hallowed Old Trafford turf at one point.
David Moyes said he was made very aware by Sir Alex Ferguson that dealing with Manchester United’s growing list of international sponsors was all part of the job.
“I’m delighted we’re going to have this sponsor on board and it’s an exciting project for the club,” he said.
Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand then took to the stage to endorse the partnership, followed closely by the entire first-team squad, who posed for photographs with Manchester United and Aeroflot executives and the Premier League trophy.