Emirates, sponsor of Arsenal, has entered preliminary talks to take over Etihad Airlines, sponsor of Manchester City, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Four people ‘familiar with the matter’ claim Dubai-based Emirates is looking to acquire unprofitable Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which has fallen on difficult times, to create the world’s number one airline.
Talks are said to be at an early stage and negotiations could yet fall through, given the complexity of such a transaction. Both sides have denied any talks are taking place, although that is not unexpected.
Etihad has been shrinking its operations and if the deal with Emirates goes ahead, the operation would be worth $19.2billion, making the airline bigger than American Airlines Group Inc., and the world’s biggest.
Any deal would require the wealthy sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates to give their approval.
Emirates is the sponsor of Arsenal’s kit and their home ground – the Emirates Stadium. And if Etihad is in fact acquired by Emirates, even if they retain their name, it would raise huge questions about their sponsorship of Manchester City.
Manchester City’s home ground, formerly the City of Manchester Stadium or Eastlands, has been called the Etihad Stadium since July 2011. Etihad also has naming rights over the state-of-the-art Etihad Campus and is the long-running sponsor of City’s kit.
It could potentially leave City looking for a new shirt sponsor and even a stadium sponsor, which would see the ground renamed again. Transferring the agreement over to Emirates would be complicated given their partnership with City’s Premier League rivals Arsenal.
At this point in time, particularly with talks said to be at an early stage and not guaranteed to be successful, it is mere speculation but should Etihad be taken over by Emirates, there may well be implications for Manchester City.