Etihad Airways denies reports of sponsorship deal with Inter Milan

Etihad Airways has quashed speculation that it is to become the new sponsor of Italian football club Inter Milan.

According to reports in Italy, the Abu Dhabi carrier was set to sign a deal worth €125 million (Dh520m) over five years with the Serie A side, whose current deal with the tyre company Pirelli expires at the end of the season.

However, Etihad said that this was not the case.

“Etihad Airways denies the reports and speculation that the airline is to become a sponsor of Inter Milan football club in Italy,” an Etihad Airways spokesperson said. “The airline is not in talks with the club and there is no truth to these rumours.”

Inter is one of the most successful clubs in Italian football history, with 18 Serie A titles, seven Coppa Italias, five Italian Super Cups, three Uefa Cups, and three Uefa Champions League titles. It stands third in the Serie A table this season, but missed out on a Champions League place – and qualification for any European competition – after finishing a disappointing eighth last season.

Etihad currently sponsors English Premier League leaders Manchester City, as well as Melbourne FC of the Australian A League and Major League Soccer’s New York City FC.

The airline last year completed a deal to acquire a 49 per cent stake in the struggling Italian carrier Alitalia.

The UAE already has a presence in Italian football with Emirates having sponsored Inter’s rivals AC Milan since 2007. The Dubai airline last year renewed the deal for a further five seasons for a reported €85m.

Research from the consultancy Repucom earlier this year showed that 20 of Europe’s top clubs are sponsored in some way by Arabian Gulf airlines.

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