Emirates lands back in Ligue 1 with Infront-brokered Lyon shirt deal
By Jonathan Rest
Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, is back in French soccer, today signing a five-year shirt sponsorship deal with Ligue 1's Olympique Lyonnais.
In a deal brokered by Infront, the international sports marketing agency, Emirates' 'Fly Better' logo will appear on the front of Lyon's playing jerseys and training kits from 2020-21 until 2024-25.
While Lagardere Sports is the marketing agency of Lyon, bringing in Deliveroo, the international food delivery service, as a major club partner just four months ago in a long-term deal, Sportcal understands Infront France was brought in just for this shirt sponsorship deal.
The partnership is understood to be worth as much as €20 million ($22 million) per season, compared with the €7 million Lyon is receiving per annum from Hyundai, the Korean car manufacturer that had been the club's shirt sponsor since 2012.
In addition to shirt sponsorship, the agreement will provide Emirates highly-visible branding across the Groupama Stadium, Lyon's home ground, as well as hospitality, ticketing and other marketing rights.
Between 2005-06 and 2018-19, Emirates was the shirt sponsor of perennial Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, paying between €25 million and €30 million per season at the end of the contract. Accor, the French hotel chain, is now the shirt sponsor of PSG, which this month brought rival airline Qatar Airways on board as a premium club partner.
Jean-François Jeanne, Infront France managing director said: "This partnership will help the development plan established by Olympique Lyonnais over the last few years and will consolidate Emirates' market position in France. This agreement will demonstrate once again the high return on investment that can be achieved by brands that choose to communicate through sport."
Jean-Michel Aulas, president of Lyon, called Emirates a "premium brand with a proven track record in football and sports sponsorship," while Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates, said: "There is already a connection between Lyon and Dubai with Emirates’ daily flights between both cities. This partnership is more than just a commercial deal, but also reinforces Emirates' investment and economic contribution to both the Lyon region, and France as a whole, a country where we have been present for nearly three decades.
"We are thrilled to have Olympique Lyonnais, a team that resonates with fans both locally and globally, join our prestigious football sponsorship portfolio."
That portfolio most famously includes Real Madrid, to whom Emirates pay €70-million-per-year contract, currently the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deal in world soccer.
Emirates is also the shirt sponsor of Italy's AC Milan, England's Arsenal (it also sponsors the stadium), Portugal's Benfica, Germany's Hamburg and Greece's Olympiakos.