The Tune Group, the entertainment and leisure brand founded by the owners of low-cost airline AirAsia, has signed a six-figure deal to become official shirt sponsor for referees and match officials in the Premier League, Football League and FA Cup.
The three-season deal will commence from the beginning of the 2010/11 season, which gets underway this weekend.
The partnership gives Tune Group access to 2,000 professional football matches, with an estimated cumulative global TV audience of more than three billion.
The partnership delivers a range of designation and promotional rights, including shirt-sleeve and training-wear branding on all professional match referees, assistant referees and fourth officials, branding and accreditation on all publicity material, the Professional Games Match Officials (PGMO) and all governing body websites, as well as match official and refereeing inventory.
Mike Riley, general manager of PGMO, said: "I’m very positive that our new relationship with Tune Group will further help the development of refereeing in this country and throughout the world."
Air Asia was previously the key sponsor for the PGMO, but the sponsorship has now moved to the parent group in an effort to make the brand, which also owns Tune Hotels and finance brand Tune Money, a more visible presence in the UK market.
Tune Hotels will open its first European hotel later this month in London, and is expected to follow this with rapid expansion of its chain in the UK and Continental Europe.
The Malaysian-based business is also responsible for a number of other major brands including AirAsia X, the world’s first low-cost, long-haul carrier, Formula 1 team Lotus Racing, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Basketball League.
Mark Lankester, Tune Hotels Group chief executive, said: "We have seen how AirAsia and AirAsia X benefited from this sponsorship before, by establishing its brand in such a mature, competitive market as the UK. With Tune Hotels opening its first London property later this month, this sponsorship by Tune Group could not be more timely.
"Communicating to English football’s three billion viewers globally presents the Tune Group of Companies with a powerful global branding tool for us in enhancing our brand awareness, not only facilitating our regional expansions but, most importantly, connecting with our customers."
Formed in 2001 to improve refereeing standards, the PGMO group officiates across all the Premier League, Football League and FA Competitions. It is involved in the mentoring of 77 referees and 225 assistant referees.
Currently, PGMO has a knowledge transfer programme that benefits entire confederations, such as the Asian Football Confederation, which has a future referees project supported by PGMO, as well as individual football associations in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, which work in partnership with PGMO to improve the performance of their own officials.
By Mark Banham