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Nike To Outfit Manchester Soccer

November 7, 2000

BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) _ Nike is raising its profile in the world’s most popular sport by signing one of the world’s richest sports endorsement deals.

The Beaverton-based company will pay nearly $440 million to outfit England’s Manchester United soccer club from 2002 to 2015 in a deal announced over the weekend.

Nike and Manchester United will evenly split any net profits, over and above the licensing fees, from Manchester licensing, sales and retail operations.

The agreement will allow Nike to sell clothes with the Manchester United logo. The club has the highest revenues of any soccer team. Nike also will create a new subsidiary to take over operations of the team’s retail stores.

British newspapers described it as the richest sponsorship deal in sports history, eclipsing the previous contract between Nike and the Brazilian national team of $107 million for 10 years.

It also dwarfs the four-year, $48 million shirt sponsorhip deal United has with Vodafone.

The deal comes after Nike’s yearlong campaign to become a force in soccer and raises the stakes in future soccer contracts, including several that Nike will be renegotiating in coming years.

Nike officials on Monday declined to discuss details of the deal. Spokesman Nigel Powell said he could not comment because the contract doesn’t start until Aug. 1, 2002.

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