Air Asia ponder United shirt sponsorship

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian budget airline AirAsia is mulling whether to become English Premier League champions Manchester United's new shirt sponsor, the company's Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said on his blog.

The move comes after troubled U.S. insurance giant AIG said it would not extend its sponsorship of United beyond an existing deal due to expire in 2010.

"Manchester United have just approached me on whether AirAsia would be interested in becoming their shirt sponsor," Fernandes wrote on his website.

Fernandes could not be reached for immediate comment.

AIG had a four-year $100 million deal to sponsor the club which is home to World Player of the Year Ronaldo, but the insurer, one of the world's biggest, had to be bailed out by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of $152 billion due to its exposure to the ailing U.S. mortgage market.

Indian company Sahara, Saudi Telecom and British insurer Prudential have also been linked to United as potential sponsors.

The club, which is the richest in England, relies on sponsorship for around a third of its revenues.