AirAsia linked with Manchester United sponsorship

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The Independent Football

Leading airline company AirAsia are the latest organisation to have talks with Manchester United over becoming their next shirt sponsors.

The Red Devils need a replacement for embattled US banking giant AIG, who have confirmed they will not be renewing their current contract, which expires next year.

Despite the current global economic downturn, United are still quietly confident of agreeing an increase on the present £19m-a-year they make in total from their deal with AIG.

It was confirmed last month that negotiations had taken place with giant Indian corporation Sahara, while Saudi Telecom are also believed to be in the running.

Now AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes has confirmed he will meet United counterpart David Gill about the possibility of becoming only the club's fourth shirt sponsor, following on from Sharp, Vodafone and AIG.

"There is no doubt that this would be great for AirAsia," said Fernandes on his personal blog.

"I don't know what the entire package would amount to but I was just thrilled that we have reached a stage where Manchester United would actually

1) Think that we are a big enough brand to afford them; and 2) That they would want our brand on them."

An Asia-based deal would make sense for United given the scale of their support in the region.

The Red Devils have already announced their plans for a pre-season tour in the summer that will see them visit China, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia.

It will be their third tour to the continent in five years, while last weekend they confirmed a tie-up with the city of Seoul to promote both organisations.