Manchester United cuts sponsorship deal with Russia

By The Rainbow

England's most valuable soccer team has cut a sponsor

Manchester United has today announced a five-year partnership with Aeroflot. The Moscow based international airline will become the Club's Official Carrier. The partnership marks the team's first commercial venture in Russia where the Red Devils say they have close to 18 million followers. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Back in April, the Mail reported that Aeroflot, majority-owned by the Russian government, 'is to become an unlikely addition to Manchester United's global roster of sponsors in a multi-million-pound contract to be announced this summer.' Aeroflot is replacing Turkish Airlines . The three-deal with the Turkish carrier, which included a sponsorship at Old Trafford stadium, was reportedly worth about $4 million a year.

The choice of Aeroflot for such a great brand like Manchester United is somewhat surprising. Not because the accident-prone former Soviet airline has had a poor safety record over the years.

But because the deal with Aeroflot means that Manchester United is now in bed with Vladimir Putin, Russia's President. Which begs this question: Did the Glazer family, which controls the publicly traded soccer team as well as the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, consult with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft before partnering with Putin?

Kraft says Putin stole his 2004 Super Bowl ring in 2005 when the NFL team owner met Putin at a gathering of business and political leaders at Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg. Putin, of course, has denied he stole Kraft's ring. Sure.

Shares of Manchester United have increased to $17 from $13 since being floated last August, in line with the S&P 500.

ship deal with Russia.