Are Arsenal selling themselves short?

Manchester United look set to blow all their near rivals out of the water with the announcement of a new money spinning sponsorship deal. The Manchester giants are closing in on a £300m deal with American manufacturers Nike. The negotiations were first revealed by Charles Sale’s Sports Agenda at the start of September. And the five year-deal, which The Sun report is set to be announced on Friday, will more than triple the annual amount they receive under their current contract.

This all comes after the summer in which Premier League rivals Arsenal announced their new deal with Puma, one that now looks set to be eclipsed. Did the gunners sell themselves short?

It is easy to be a little influenced by the current league standings, indeed in footballing terms of late Arsenal have definitely been a class above. For fans that envisage Arsenal returning to the big time, the announcement that United can still draw upon so much more will surely frustrate.

But this isn’t some financial blunder by Gazidis and co, it is something that makes a lot of sense. When a company like Nike sponsor a club they aren’t backing them to win the league, they are trying to get the best exposure for their brand. In world sport there are few bigger clubs than Manchester United, and this is just a harsh reality that teams like Arsenal have to accept.

United are able to draw upon the biggest fan base in the world, mass audiences in places like Asia and America with everyone trying to get their hands on that famous shirt. The appeal of Manchester United won’t be lost overnight, and their value to sponsors is still very much intact for the time being.

Arsenal’s £30m a year deal looks pretty miserly compared to that of their Manchester rivals, but in world terms it is a significant piece of business. Only Chelsea and Real Madrid can say they have bigger kit deals, and for a club like Arsenal who don’t have the same global appeal or trophy haul, I would actually suggest it represents an impressive piece of business from their perspective.

Arsenal are a club on the verge of something big here, and if their potential can be converted into silverware then they will be able to battle with United on the financial playing field. Until then they are going to have to accept that they are one amongst a number of other big clubs that are playing for the still sizeable leftovers.

So when Arsenal turn out with Puma on their famous shirts it shouldn’t be with any sense of failure at all. Gazidis has ensured that Arsenal have the financial muscle to compete with the very best, and they have a deal which gives them an incredible platform for the future.

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