Airline keen to sponsor United

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian budget airline AirAsia joined the race to become Manchester United's shirt sponsor as India's Sahara group said it was still in talks with the club.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian budget airline AirAsia joined the race to become Manchester United's shirt sponsor as India's Sahara group said it was still in talks with the club.

AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes said on his blog that the Premier League side had invited him to discuss the deal. Struggling US insurer AIG, the current sponsor, will not renew after 2010.

"I was just thrilled that we have reached a stage where Manchester United would actually think that we are a big enough brand to afford them and that they would want our brand on them," said Fernandes.

"To be honest, I don't know what the entire package would amount to, as prices would have come down," he said.

"But it must be stated that all our branding commitments have always been about the impact to our bottom line."

AirAsia was launched as a budget carrier in December 2001 with just two aircraft. It now flies more than 100 domestic and international routes across Asia, including to London.

Fernandes, who said he was in London last Monday and about to start negotiations, described the decision on whether to commit to the shirt sponsorship as a "multi-million dollar question".

"There is no doubt that this would be great for AirAsia and it is worth the money," he said.

Meanwhile Sahara chairman Subrata Roy said the Indian group was continuing its talks with United. - Sapa-AFP

X