LONDON (AP) — Manchester United agreed Tuesday two new sponsorship deals with a prominent Chinese bank and soft-drink manufacturer as the English Premier League club looks to capitalize on its status in Asia.
The three-year deals with China Construction Bank and beverage producer Wahaha are a sign of United's mass appeal in a country where it is believed to have 108 million supporters.
The club's agreement with CCB will see the advent of an official Manchester United branded credit card, which is set to become a popular feature for the club's fans in China, offering a range of benefits, including various club-related incentives.
United commercial director Richard Arnold said the nature of the deal will help to strengthen the club's connection with its Chinese fans, who he describes as "among the most supportive."
"Together with our TV and mobile partners, financial services products give us tangible ways of providing real benefits to our fans that enable them to establish a closer relationship with their favorite team," Arnold said.
The club's agreement with Wahaha has seen the company become United's first official soft-drink partner.
The firm is regarded as China's largest beverage producer in the past 11 years and Arnold expressed his joy at the deal.
"We are delighted to be able to work with a company which, like Manchester United, is dedicated to innovation and leadership in its field," Arnold said.
United has fostered a strong fan base in China in recent years, visiting the country 11 times to play friendlies since 1975.
United, which is owned by the Glazer family, has been rapidly raising cash through global sponsorship deals.
United's commercial revenue grew 13.7 percent to a record 117.6 million pounds (then $188 million) in 2011-12, the largest in the Premier League.