By announcing a partnership with blockchain platform Tezos, Manchester United will announce a new multi-year sponsorship of their training kit.
The Athletic can reveal that the two parties have reached an agreement worth more than £20 million per year and that United has already begun shooting promotional materials at the club’s training facility in preparation for an announcement. The agreement does not include the Carrington training ground.
United’s previous £120 million sponsorship deal with Aon, an American insurance company, expired at the end of last season.
Discussions to swap out Aon for The Hut Group was said to have folded after the Manchester-based company withdrew due to concerns about a fan boycott of United’s commercial partners in protest of the Glazer family’s ownership of the club. This season, the team has been without a front-of-shirt training sponsor.
United has since held talks with a number of other companies, including several in the blockchain space, and is set to announce a major partnership with Tezos.
Tezos is a blockchain, or a type of decentralised computer network, like Ethereum, that is supported by the Tezos Foundation.
Blockchains like Tezos, according to proponents, could be a way to carry out computerised transactions more efficiently than current technology and help to eliminate expensive middlemen from the process.
Detractors point out that blockchain transactions necessitate a lot of computing power, which produces carbon.
Tezos, on the other hand, appears to be a more energy-efficient platform. United is said to have carried out due diligence before agreeing to the deal and believes the partners are trustworthy.
Despite the pandemic and a difficult period on the field, United’s deal has given the club confidence that its commercial appeal to partners remains strong. United’s summer signing of Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo has aided in the development of commercial opportunities this season, though United sees these as secondary to his potential contribution as a player.
Tezos is inextricably linked to Tez, its own digital token, which crypto traders buy and sell in order to profit. Cryptocurrency trading is extremely risky, volatile, and unregulated. The Tezos token’s value has risen dramatically in the last three years but has fallen precipitously since November, mirroring crypto prices in general.
Tezos has been investing in sports sponsorship, most notably as the first blockchain deal for the New York Mets in May 2021, and indeed the first of its kind for any of the 30 Major League Baseball teams.
Tezos and Red Bull Racing Honda announced a partnership in May, with Tezos securing a deal to build the racing team’s first-ever NFT experience.
Tezos was named as the primary technical partner of Team Vitality, a French esports organization, in January 2022, in what was described as one of the largest deals in “European esports history,” in which Tezos secured front-of-shirt visibility.
United did not respond to requests for comment. The Athletic contacted Tezos, but he did not respond before publication.
The deal is also thought to include collaboration beyond United’s training kit, which would aid the company’s efforts to maximize opportunities in the technology space, such as the metaverse and “web 3.0.”