In Brief

Manchester United lead the way in race for sponsors

Virgin Money signs on at Old Trafford as other clubs cash in on sponsorship deals for training kit

Not content to spend the summer months pursuing new footballing talent, the big beasts of the Premier League are busy acquiring new signings off the field, with Manchester United unveiling Sir Richard Branson as their latest recruit.

The Old Trafford club have signed a four-year deal with Virgin Money, which will become the club's "Official Retail Financial Services Partner".

"Virgin are the 15th financial partner United have on their ever-growing books," reports the Daily Mail, "with almost 70 businesses from across the world linked to the club.

"That is more than double any other Premier League side and include a nutritional supplements, ready-meal, outdoor apparel, noodle and casual footwear ally."

However, the reaction on Twitter suggests that while the commercial department at Old Trafford is playing a blinder, fans are more interested in players than partners.

But it seems clubs will stop at nothing to increase their revenues and sponsorship deals for training kit could be the latest battleground, reports the Mail.

Man United, Liverpool and Chelsea are leading the way, it adds. All three kicked off their pre-season friendlies at the weekend and "sported tops emblazoned with secondary partners across their warm-up gear".

Managers, Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho also had sponsors embroidered onto their touchline jackets.

"Premier League sides are trying to become more creative from a revenue perspective, attempting to capitalise at every possible turn as the popularity of the division grows with each passing season," says the paper.

"The 24-hour coverage of the bigger English clubs presents more and more chance to see players train and managers give team talks."

Chelsea have a three-year deal worth £30m with the energy drink Carabao, while Man United's former shirt sponsor, Aon, now has its name emblazoned on the training kit after agreeing an eight-year deal worth around £120m.

But the English clubs are not alone.

"Even Barcelona, who until recently refused shirt sponsorship, now have online casino Botemania after thrashing out a deal last year. That will bring in in the region of £59m over four seasons," says the Mail.

Inter Milan may also be about to join the movement. They were spotted training in kit featuring the logo of their sponsor, Pirelli, "obscured by white tape", reports ESPN.

"The club's new Chinese owners are reportedly looking for a new sponsor for the club's training apparel," adds the website.

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