In a move that will upset traditionalists, the FA are understood to have secured a three-year contract with Emirates Airlines.
The deal, due to be rubber-stamped by the FA board on Thursday, is believed to be worth at least £10million a year — but comes at a cost for lovers of the 144-year-old competition.
Renaming it the Emirates FA Cup is a lot closer to title sponsorship than the previous ‘in association with Budweiser’ agreement, which was worth £9m annually.
But the FA, after a highly embarrassing season without any Cup backer that has put huge pressure on their commercial department, needed to offer more to attract a significant sponsor to the table.
The hunt proved hugely difficult even after the FA revamped their sponsorship team to bring in expertise honed at Manchester United. And it needed a bit of luck to attract Emirates Airlines, who have a massive sports sponsorship portfolio across the world that includes Arsenal’s stadium and kit.
Emirates have big money to spend after deciding last November not to renew their £30m-a-year FIFA sponsorship for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups with the corruption allegations surrounding those tournaments said to be a consideration.
And Emirates are no longer involved, either, in the tender for a Champions League airline sponsor, allowing the FA to offer a major football sponsorship alternative.
Dubai-based Emirates have their arch Abu Dhabi airline rivals Etihad as Manchester City’s kit and stadium sponsors. But City foresee no problems with an Emirates FA Cup.