Indian link-up excites Gill

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Football News

Chief executive David Gill believes Manchester United will one day play in India after sealing their first £10million sponsorship deal with telecom services provider Airtel.

United have long viewed India as ripe for commercial expansion and have held discussions with a series of major companies about replacing AIG as their shirt sponsors.

"This is a very exciting development because India is an area of commercial potential," said Gill.

"We are looking at everything. Some might work, others might not.

"But India is a sports-loving country with a fast-growing economy. I am sure Manchester United will play a game in India at some stage, although there is no commitment to do it just yet."

United are believed to be getting £2million-per-annum over the five years of the contract, with Gill viewing the whole venture as a broad canvass.

The Old Trafford outfit will take their highly-rated soccer skills programme into India in an effort to reach a percentage of the 560 million young people in the country, a number that exceeds the combined populations of the United States and Indonesia, the third and fourth largest in the world, emphasising why it is of such huge interest.

"Indian food is the English national dish, there is no reason why English football should not become the Indian national game," said United commercial director Richard Arnold.

"There is an affinity between India and the UK. It has aspirations to host a World Cup, so there is a natural partnership from a country point of view."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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