Top clubs are going up a gear with major deals from sponsors who want to combine appeal in two male fantasy zones: cars and goal-scoring. Ciara Sutton reports.
Fast cars.... and football.... a match made in heaven? A recent spate of deals involving some of the big shakers in both - who would no doubt agree. Most recently of those: Japan's second-biggest car-maker Nissan sealed a relationship with City Football Group. It's to sponsor CFG, whose soccer clubs include English Champions Manchester City, in a five-year deal. The Japanese carmaker wants to boost brand exposure in Europe, Asia and the United States through sports deals. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF NISSAN MOTOR CO, CARLOS GHOSN, SAYING: "Our partnership enhances Nissan's investments in the game of soccer which is a key platform to further strengthen our brand globally." The deal gives Nissan brand exposure via City, who have emerged as a force in English soccer in recent seasons. The group's other clubs include Melbourne City in Australia and the New York City Football Club. Robert Haigh from Brand Finance says for Nissan wanting to boost global sales, football is the perfect platform. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ROBERT HAIGH, BRAND VALUATION CONSULTANT AT BRAND FINANCE, SAYING: "There's also a gender element to this. Football is still dominated by male supporters and male players. And men play a disproportionate role in car purchase decisions. So that element comes into it too." It comes after General Motors' $559 million deal to have its Chevrolet brand name on rival Manchester United's famous red shirts over the next seven years - the biggest such sponsorship agreement in world soccer. Such big contracts though are also a risk for the sponsor - following that deal, Manchester United went on to have a less than impressive season. In May, CFG announced its stake of around 20 percent in Nissan-backed Yokohama F. Marinos. And Nissan recently replaced Ford Motor as the sponsor of European Champions League football. Tie-ups between Asian brands and football look on the rise. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ROBERT HAIGH, BRAND VALUATION CONSULTANT AT BRAND FINANCE, SAYING: "There's Chang who sponsor Everton and various others. We were actually expecting or thinking that it might be Li Ning, which is a huge Chinese sports retailer, might make a move and step in to fill Nike's shoes when that slot became available for Manchester United. And although ultimately it turned out to be Adidas, we expect Li Ning and other Asian brands to make their mark soon." Manchester City has become one of the world's leading teams. It won the English Premier League in May, their second league title in the past three seasons.