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The BBC's Adam Mynott reports
The biggest club and the biggest communications company in the world link up
 real 28k

Manchester United's Deputy Chief Exec. Peter Kenyon
"I think both sides are delighted with the deal"
 real 28k

Friday, 11 February, 2000, 15:20 GMT
Vodafone in 30m Man Utd tie-up

Vodafone shirt Joining the team: United's latest signing

The world's largest telecoms company Vodafone has signed a 30m sponsorship deal with Manchester United.

The four-year deal will put Vodafone's logo on the team kit. Manchester United supporters, meanwhile, are promised special deals on mobile phone and wireless internet services, and access to club news "anywhere, anytime".

Both sides described it as a "ground-breaking agreement", as the deal goes beyond the usual shirt sponsorship.

These offers will start when the 2000/01 season kicks off in the middle of August.

When the new kit is launched in August this year, fans will also get other mobile phone related offers, the companies said.

Man U news 'anywhere, anytime'

Vodafone UK chief executive Peter Bamford said the deal offered opportunities to both companies.

"There is additional business potential in the bringing together of the world's largest telecommunications company and the world's best known football club," he said.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson at Friday's launch

Manchester United's deputy chief executive Peter Kenyon, said: "They will bring us the capability to provide our fans around the world with the best services giving them news and information about the team anywhere, anytime."

Using Vodafone's wireless internet portal, fans will be able to see text and audio messages on their mobile phones.

Once third generation mobile phones are available - from about 2003/2004 - they should be able to watch archived football matches as well.

The agreement includes hospitality access for Vodafone at Manchester United's Old Trafford ground.

Goodbye to Sharp

Tim Richmond, a football analyst at Albert E. Sharp brokers, said that for Vodafone the front of Manchester United shirts was "a great place" to advertise.

"From a brand awareness point of view, there's nobody better for them really", he said.

The club's current sponsor is consumer electronics company Sharp.

Many other companies had been touted as potential sponsors of the football club. In recent weeks, companies such as British Airways, and Yahoo! had all been seen as possible sponsors.

Vodafone already sponsors the English Cricket Board to the tune of 12.5m.

It also sponsors the Vodafone Derby and the England womens' cricket teams.

Manchester United's share price was 4.5% higher at 300 pence while Vodafone was up 3.5% at 355 pence.
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