In keeping with its strategy to be perceived as an international brand, west London soccer club Chelsea has signed a £24 million ($35m) kit sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines.

The partnership is one of the largest ever in British football, second only to the recent £30m deal between Vodafone and Premier League champions Manchester United.

Emirates will be hoping to use the increasing global appeal of English football to raise awareness of its brand. Chelsea, on the other hand, is hoping to ape the success of Manchester United and other UK clubs in taking their name overseas.

“We are an international team and an international club,” insisted Chelsea chairman Ken Bates, “so we wanted a more high-profile international commercial partner. Emirates will help promote Chelsea to a much wider audience.”

However, Chelsea, currently lying eighth in the league table and in danger of a trophy-less season, will have to improve its performances on the field to justify Bates’ hyperbole off it.

News source: Financial Times