Technology giant Microsoft seeks to join the likes of Middle East business enterprises like Etihad Airways and Emirates Airways in having a top European football stadium named after them. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is said to have been engaging the Spanish football giants who have previously partenred with Microsoft for charity purposes with an aim of cutting a business deal in the region of $10 million per year that will see one of the most popular sports venues in the world get renamed in Microsoft’s favour.
Should the deal push through, we should expect such a ludicrous name as Microsoft Santiago Bernabeu since it is highly unlikely that Real Madrid can completely change the name of its historic stadium just for commercial purposes. A backlash from the fans as was the case with Newcastle when it changed the name of historic St James Park to Sporting Direct Arena could emerge. Real Madrid being a global sporting brand and icon, expect a name fusion should Redmond and Madrid put pen to paper. It is not clear whether Microsoft’s naming rights will explicitly mean the company’s name takes a high profile i.e. it is directly pushed in the branding or its many product brands like Windows or Windows Phone or say Office will be the ones involved. Also it is not clear for how long such a deal will be in place if eventually agreed upon.
Microsoft stands to join other technology companies like Samsung, HP and HTC that have been involved in deals with European football franchises for a while now.
Other top football clubs that have similar deals with other companies include Arsenal (Emirates Airways – Emirates Stadium) and Manchester City (Etihad Airways – Etihad Stadium). Elsewhere Manchester United have had a similar deal but only involving its training ground, Carrington, which was renamed to AON Training Complex earlier his year in a 15 million pounds a season deal. Closer home, we saw Coca-cola seal a deal with the Sports Stadia Management Board a few years back that led to Nyayo National Stadium sensationally being renamed Coca-cola Stadium only for the decision to be overturned later by the government.