Manchester United are facing the embarrassing prospect of having to wear a Nike kit during next summer’s pre-season fixtures, despite agreeing a world record £750 million with Adidas from the start of the 2015-16 season.
Nike, who had a six-month exclusivity period on negotiations over a new contract with United, abandoned talks to extend their 13-year partnership with the club in July by claiming that “the terms that were on offer for a renewed contract did not represent good value for Nike’s shareholders”.
Adidas, who also supply playing kit to Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and World Cup winners Germany, will pay United £75million-a-year over 10 years for the right to manufacturer the club’s kit.
But with United’s current £23.5 million-a-year agreement with Nike not due to expire until July 31, 2015, the manufacturers expect the Premier League club to turn out in their branded kit until that date.
Despite the potential scenario of expensive summer signings making their United debuts wearing a Nike kit rather than Adidas, it is understood that no talks have taken place between the club and Nike over a compromise deal that would enable the team to wear the Adidas logo from the outset of any pre-season tour next year.
United are planning to return to the United States for their pre-season preparations next summer after enjoying a successful five-game tour of the country prior to the start of this campaign.
While pre-season is regarded as a fitness-building exercise for the playing squad, the annual summer tours, generally to the States or the Far East, play a central role in United’s commercial strategy.
American automotive giants Chevrolet timed the launch of their £53 million-a-year shirt sponsorship deal with United to coincide the club’s tour of the States this summer, with Louis van Gaal’s first game in charge as manager being a specially-staged Chevrolet Cup encounter against LA Galaxy in California.
But Adidas could be forced to delay the launch of their partnership with United until Aug 1 next year unless the club can thrash out a deal with Nike to cut short their long-standing contractual agreement.
United have previously negotiated the early termination of sponsorship deals with Vodafone and DHL in order to secure more lucrative agreements with other commercial partners.
One of the top items this week on the Manchester United website, a week when the Champions League would normally dominate the club’s coverage, was a video entitled “Skills with a Samurai”.