FA Cup could be renamed Emirates FA Cup

Emma Woollacott
Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium
Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium



The FA Cup is set to be renamed the Emirates FA Cup if a new sponsorship deal goes ahead.

A year after Budweiser decided not to renew its deal and talks with another potential sponsor fell through for unknown reasons, the FA is believed to be finally close to a deal with the airline.

The FA board meets tomorrow and is expected to discuss the deal, and to make an announcement before the arrival of new chief executive Martin Glenn next month.

And the three-year agreement, worth around £10 million a year, would see the FA Cup renamed - something that's never happened before in the competition's 144-year history.

Budweiser, for example, had to settle for 'in association with', while between 1998 and 2002, it was called the AXA-Sponsored FA Cup.

And many will be concerned that the deal could be a step towards the naming rights being sold altogether, in a similar manner to the Football League.

However, the FA insists that nothing's been decided, commenting in a statement: "We remain in discussion with a number of parties in relation to FA Cup partner opportunities."

Budweiser, meanwhile, is now one of several 'secondary sponsors', having been named official beer partner until 2018. There are similar deals with William Hill and Nike, and the FA is looking to sign up six more. The aim is to bump up total sponsorship to at least £20 million by 2018 - and, clearly, the Emirates deal would help.

Emirates, for its part, has plenty of cash to splash about, after corruption allegations against Russia and Qatar led it to decide against renewing its £30 million-a-year FIFA sponsorship for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

It won the naming rights to Arsenal's stadium when the team left Highbury nine years ago, and has sponsored their shirts since. But it's no longer involved in the tender to be an airline sponsor for the Champions League.

The FA Cup Final will take place on May 30 between current cup-holder Arsenal and underdog Aston Villa. If Arsenal is successful, it will be able to boast the most wins in the history of the competition.

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