Man United approach Indian firm over shirt deal

NEW DELHI - European and world club champions Manchester United have sent a shirt sponsorship proposal to an Indian company, some 16 months before the end of their current deal with American insurance giants AIG.

"We can confirm that we have received a proposal for team sponsorship, it is an elaborate one," Abhijit Sarkar, spokesman for the diversified Sahara Group, told Reuters on Tuesday.

"We received the proposal a few days ago. At this stage I cannot give any more details," he said.

United's four-year $100 million deal with AIG runs until the end of next season and a club spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that Sahara were one of the companies approached as a potential replacement.

"Our current arrangement comes to an end in 16 months or so and we have begun approaching various organisations with a view to organising a new deal," the spokesman said.

Once the world's biggest insurer by market value, AIG averted bankruptcy in September last year with an $85 billion federal bailout, which later swelled to about $152 billion.

The company has started selling assets to raise funds to repay a part of the government bailout. There was no immediate comment available from AIG on their United sponsorship plans.

Sahara, which sponsors the Indian cricket team, is an unlisted group with interests from financial services to real estate.

The Hindustan Times quoted a club spokesman on Tuesday as saying United's commercial director Richard Arnold had written to Sahara about sponsoring the team shirt.

The letter from United, the English champions and current Premier League leaders, said the club were contacting Sahara as a potential partner "for the world's most iconic sports marketing tool, the Manchester United shirt", the paper said.

"The shirt sponsorship of Manchester United is a rare and high profile opportunity," it quoted Arnold as saying.