Manchester United have underlined their global status as a brand by signing the world's biggest sports kit deal – for an astonishing £750million with Adidas.
That figure – just £40m shy of what the Glazer family paid for the club in 2005 –could potentially be worth even more, with the £750m over 10 years yesterday described as a "minimum guarantee", though United refused to elaborate on exactly what that meant.
The fact that United are not in the Champions League for the first time in 14 years and the team is being rebuilt under new manager Louis van Gaal – who starts work at Old Trafford today – has certainly not put off adidas from trumping Nike, United's kit supplier for 13 years, who pulled out of negotiations over a new deal last week because it felt United were demanding too much money. Adidas are paying more than double what Nike had been paying.
However, adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer explained why the new deal, which starts in the 2015-16 season, made economic sense when he predicted yesterday: "We expect total sales to reach £1.5bn during the duration of our partnership."
To put the £750m into context, the previous kit record was held by the France football team at £36m a year. The highest non-football deal is the £11m a year Nike pay the NFL.
The adidas agreement was described in a statement as "a global technical sponsorship and dual branded licensing deal", with adidas providing training and playing kit to all the club's teams.
Adidas has not given any details about the design of the new strip, but said they may look to the Manchester United kits of the 1980s and early 1990s for inspiration.
United, who this season begin a world-record seven-year £53m shirt sponsorship deal with Chevrolet, boast a huge international market, especially in the Far East where exhibition games have regularly sold out.
Only yesterday it was announced that NBC Sports in the United States will show United's summer tour match against Internazionale in Washington live on July 29, reflecting the growing pull of English football in the States and a love of the game buoyed by the national team's impressive World Cup finals.
Despite the gruelling campaign in Brazil, Van Gaal is taking just two days off before formally taking charge at United this week and beginning the tour of the United States on Friday.
"I don't need a holiday," the 62-year-old former Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Ajax coach said. "It's great to have such an exciting challenge. To work daily with young people is something that I don't need time off to rest for."
Van Gaal's first match in charge of United will be on July 23 in a friendly against Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl.