Qatar Airways is interested in becoming the new shirt sponsors of Paris Saint-Germain and replacing rival airline Emirates.
The football club’s deal with Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, will expire at the end of the 2018-19 season.
The club, owned by Qatar Sports Investment, is reported to be asking for €80 million a year for shirt sponsorship of one of the world’s biggest football brands.
Emirates currently pays between €25 million and 30 million a year and was unwilling to sign up to PSG’s new deal, bringing an end to its 13-year relationship with the club.
The chief executive of Qatar Airways, Akbal al Baker, has made it clear that his company is keen to become PSG’s replacement shirt sponsors.
“I’m sure we would be interested if the opportunity presented itself,” he told French media.
Meanwhile, Emirates is said to be interested in sponsoring the shirts of PSG’s rivals Marseille, and has signed a new contract with Arsenal which will see it continue as shirt sponsor for the Premier League club until 2023-24.
Emirates is the shirt sponsor of many of Europe’s leading clubs, including Champions League title holders Real Madrid.
— Emirates Airline (@emirates) February 14, 2018
As well as the increased value of the sponsorship deals, increasing tensions between Qatar and other states in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates, may also be a factor in Emirates’ decision to leave the club.
The UAE is one of a number of countries in the region that has imposed a trade and travel embargo on Qatar since June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
The embargo makes it difficult for a Dubai-based airline to sponsor a Qatari-owned football club.
Any deal between PSG and Qatar Airways, however, could itself be problematic, given the close relationship between Qatar Sports Investment and the Qatari government, which owns Qatar Airways.
PSG is already under close scrutiny from Uefa for potentially breaching the governing body’s financial fair play rules.
Uefa has threatened PSG with a ban from the Champions League and other European competitions, and a new sponsorship deal with Qatar Airlines could be a further cause for concern.
No deal between the club and Qatar Airlines has yet been agreed, with Emirates the shirt sponsors until the end of the 2018-19 season.