Manchester United are reportedly poised to secure a world-record kit deal worth around £70 million a year with a fierce bidding war between sportswear giants set to take off.
Adidas, Warrior and Puma have all been lined up to bid for the right to usurp Nike as United’s official shirt supplier, with the latter still not out of the race.
United’s £23.5 million-a-year deal with Nike started in 2002-03 and expires at the end of the 2014-15 campaign. No agreement has been reached on a new contract which has paved the way for a potential replacement.
Nike had a six-month period of exclusivity on negotiations up until August 2013, but now a bidding war can commence as United look to secure a world-record deal for the sponsorship.
Sources close to United’s American owners, the Glazer family, have been quoted in numerous papers as insisting that the club can land "a billion dollar deal", which is equivalent to £600m.
A United spokesperson said: "We currently are in discussions with multiple parties regarding our Global Retail, Apparel & Product Licensing business starting in the 2015/16 season.
"This process is a routine practice used for our global and regional sponsorship deals and helps us maximise the value/structure of the Club’s partnerships."
Biggest existing kit deals per year
£31m– Real Madrid (Adidas 2012-20)
£30m – Arsenal (Puma 2014-19)
£26.3m –Barcelona (Nike 2006-13)
£25m – Liverpool (Warrior 2012-2015)
£23.5m – Manchester United (Nike 2002-15)
£22m – Bayern Munich (Adidas 2011-20)
£20m – Chelsea (Adidas 2010-18)
£12m – Manchester City (Nike 2013-19)
With United recognised as the most powerful brand in world football, the club believe they can command a huge fee for the deal, despite seeing their stock price fall in recent months off the back of a run of poor results.
The club, with chief executive Ed Woodward renowned for his ability to attract big backers, secured a £53m-a-year shirt sponsorship deal with Chevrolet, due to start this summer, with the kit deal set to follow.
Real's £31m-a-year deal with Adidas is currently the biggest club partnership, but Nike’s £40m-a-year, seven-year agreement with the French Football Federation could be regarded as a key benchmark for the deal.
United's commercial director Richard Arnold is understood to be meeting with Adidas this week, while Warrior – who currently produce Liverpool's kit – also set for lengthy talks.
Puma are believed to be meeting United representatives early next week, according to reports.