Nissan signs as sponsor of Man City, global clubs


AP Sports Writer

Premier League champion Manchester City signed Nissan Motor Co. as the first global sponsor of its portfolio of clubs on Thursday.

The five-year deal with Nissan was announced two months after City bought a stake in Japanese team Yokohama F Marinos from the carmaker.

Man City, which has been rapidly remodeled on and off the pitch since being bought by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, turned its focus to building a network of teams through its Abu Dhabi backing.

A Major League Soccer expansion team, New York City FC, has been formed with the NY Yankees which has a minority stake, and City recently bought Australian side Melbourne Heart, which has subsequently been renamed Melbourne City.

Nissan will be the automotive partner of the whole City Football Group, with the company branding to feature prominently at the Etihad Stadium where Man City won the Premier League title for the second time in three seasons in May.

"This innovative partnership enhances Nissan's investment in the game of soccer, which is a key platform to further strengthen our brand globally," Nissan President Carlos Ghosn said.

The Nissan partnership would not be as lucrative as Manchester United's $559 million, seven-year deal with General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet division, which is the jersey sponsor. Although financial terms were not disclosed by City, the contract is estimated to be worth tens of millions of pounds (dollars) over the five years.

"This new partnership presents us both with incredibly exciting opportunities to collaborate through football both in Japan and across the world," City Football Group chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak said in a statement.

The deal is a further sign of how the pulling power of the 134-year-old parent club will be utilized to help the growth of its spin-off teams.

Spain forward David Villa last month joined NYCFC on a 3-year deal, and will stay match fit until the American team starts playing in March 2015 with a loan spell at Melbourne City. City said the Nissan and Villa deals reflect the "potential of the network's unique business model."

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