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On Shirt Sponsors and United’s Injuries

After successfully overcoming gruelling trips, and battling debilitating illnesses I come before you to do what used to be a daily routine of mine — writing about Manchester United.

I’ve missed reporting, analysing, ranting on my share of United related stories, so I shall hope to make up for the negligence in due course — however impossible it might seem.

To start this off, it’s a nice feeling to be top of the table for now and the impressive form shown by the lads in the face of crumbling hamstrings, calfs and ankles is, well, impressive. True, we cannot even begin comparing ourselves with the likes of Barcelona on the pitch, but considering the nature of hurdles the team has faced this season — you know what I mean — I can say I am pleased we are still in contention for all four trophies. This is a dogged United side that, for all it’s relative lack of offensive bite this season, just wouldn’t cede ground easily. [This line was written with the dread that it could bite me in the arse come Tuesday against West Brom.] If the lads can grit their teeth and eke out results for the next two weeks, the world champions can be good value for at least three out of four trophies this season. [I assume Evra, Rio, Rooney might return in two weeks’ time.]

There has been much talk about our prospective sponsors. Saudi Telecom had prominently cropped up earlier and much was made about how wrong it is from a political and human rights standpoint to accept money from the Saudi Royal family. I am not willing to make political statements on this blog, but the Glazers have already shown a willingness to do business with the Saudi Sheikhs in the past. So a deal with them, in the current economic climate, would make sense to the American owners from a pure business standpoint. The other name that’s been more talked about lately, the India-based Sahara group — which has been inaccurately labelled as a financial services group in various media circles — looks like a proven bankable option. They are a huge business conglomerate that encompass various sectors including financial services, real estate and, until recently, aviation. They are the shirt sponsors of the Indian cricket team which is an ongoing four year deal worth $70 million (AIG’s deal with United was about $76 million for four years). The Indian cricket team, it must be said especially for those outside cricketing circles, is a multi-million dollar brand; the country’s cricket board is comfortably worth well over $2 billion dollars. And Sahara’s desire and history of being associated with big brands would tie in nicely with United. Although the question would be how much of a hit Sahara has taken during this financial crisis.

Also, it is worth noting that United have contacted prospective sponsors, so there may yet be new names coming up. Whilst it’s possible the new deal will be more than the AIG one, it remains to be seen how much the recession affects the price sponsors are willing to pay for the famous red shirt.

There is plenty else I’ve missed out waffling on. But they will follow later because it’s time for me to attend to other chores. Over to you.