O2 tipped to seal cut-price Arsenal deal

Arsenal Football Club is understood to be on the point of signing a substantially reduced sponsorship deal with mobile phone company BT Cellnet.

Arsenal, which has been in talks with BT Cellnet for some months, had reportedly been seeking &£7m a year from its replacement for Sega. But BT Cellnet, which rebrands as mmO2 in April, is believed to have beaten the club down to &£2.5m, plus royalties on use of the Arsenal name in mobile marketing campaigns. The deal will last between three and five years, and will include branding on players’ shirts and perimeter advertising.

Neither company will confirm or deny the rumour. An Arsenal spokesman says: “Nothing is signed yet”. An O2 spokesman comments: “We’re talking to a number of Premiership teams, no contract has been signed.”

The deal confirms how dramatically the football sponsorship market has changed since the start of 2002. One potential Premier League sponsor told Marketing Week it had been offered a deal for &£400,000 rather than &£4m. The club was not revealed.

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