FA Cup breaks with tradition as Emirates deal confirmed

The English Football Association has confirmed a three-year deal with Emirates under which the Dubai-based airline will become the first outright title sponsor of club knockout competition the FA Cup.

The deal, spanning the 2015-16 to 2017-18 seasons, was announced ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final, which saw Arsenal defeat Aston Villa 4-0. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed, but it is widely reported to be worth in the region of £30m (€41.6m/$44.75m).

The FA Cup has taken place without a main sponsor this season after beer brand Budweiser opted against renewing a partnership valued in the region of £9m annually.

Previously the FA has avoided explicitly branding the FA Cup in order to avoid upsetting traditionalists. The tagline of ‘The FA Cup in association with Budweiser’ was used under its previous agreement.

However, under its designation as the lead partner the FA Cup will be known as the Emirates FA Cup from next season.

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, said: “Football is a truly global sport, a unifying factor in many communities and nations across the world. Never is this more evident than with the FA Cup, which has an unrivalled heritage and draws a global audience of more than 1.1 billion people.

“The spirit of competition, fair play, and sparking the passions of a global audience, are all values we share at Emirates. That is why we are proud to be the first title sponsor of the tournament and we look forward to a long-term partnership to support and connect fans to their teams both here in the UK and across the world.”

Emirates is the shirt and stadium naming rights sponsor of Arsenal and its presence in European club football includes deals with Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Hamburger SV, Real Madrid and Olympiacos. The airline last month agreed a three-year deal to become the new main sponsor of Portuguese Primeira Liga champion Benfica.

Emirates opted against renewing its top-tier sponsorship of football’s global governing body Fifa last November.