Malta has renewed a sponsorship deal with football giants Manchester United to promote the island as a tourist destination.
The decision to extend the commercial agreement was announced by the Tourism Ministry in a statement on Saturday morning.
The renewed deal will run for a five-year period. It remains unknown how much the promotion will cost taxpayers, with the statement announcing it not stating how much money the football club will receive to name Malta its “official destination partner”.
“Through this partnership agreement, the VisitMalta brand will benefit from strong exposure during the Club’s home matches and digital marketing channels, social media and on printed media worldwide,” the ministry said in its statement.
Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo, his ministry’s permanent secretary Anthony Gatt and Malta Tourism Authority CEO Carlo Micallef were all present as the renewed deal was announced at Old Trafford, Manchester United’s home stadium.
The original deal between Malta and Manchester United was sealed in September 2019 for a three-year period. The government refused to disclose how much it had spent on the deal, saying only that speculation about a €20 million price tag was “nowhere close” to the actual amount.
That deal could not have come at a worse time: within six months of it being signed, the COVID-19 pandemic was forcing countries to close down airports and lock up football stadiums.
While Manchester United remains a behemoth in commercial terms, it has struggled to find success on the pitch in recent years, slumping to 6th place in the UK Premier League last season.
The club has deep roots in Malta, which hosts the oldest international Manchester United supporters’ club in the world.
Minister Bartolo said that the deal would boost Malta’s image in places like America, Asia and the Middle East, where Manchester United enjoys larfe fan bases.
“I am optimistic that this partnership agreement will cement Malta’s prospects in establishing itself as a central hub for sports tourism excellence in the years to come”, he said.
MTA CEO Micallef acknowledged the challenge of making the previous deal work in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and said the MTA and football club had worked on digital promotion to get their message across.
“We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved during the first years of the partnership, especially during a time where international travel was restricted, and we look forward to continuing this successful partnership for many years to come”, said Manchester United’s Director of Alliances and Partnerships Ali Edge.
Correction August 6, 2022: A previous version misstated Manchester United's league position in the past years.
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