|Chelsea have signed a deal reportedly worth $61.64m a year with The Yokohama Rubber Company -- it's the biggest shirt sponsorship deal in the club's history|
(CNN)It's a club that has recently been embroiled in an unsavory racism controversy but that hasn't deterred a leading Japanese tire manufacturer deciding that Chelsea are the right fit for a shirt sponsorship deal.
Financial details were undisclosed but English Premier League leaders Chelsea's deal with the Yokohama Rubber Company is reportedly worth $62 million a year allowing the tire manufacturer to emblazon its brand across the front of the London club's shirts for five years starting next season.
The deal is second only to Manchester United's agreement with Chevrolet -- worth $81 million a year -- and demonstrates the English Premier League's continuing global appeal. Chelsea's current kit sponsor is South Korean company Samsung.
"This shirt partnership with Chelsea will give Yokohama an opportunity to showcase our company to a huge worldwide audience thanks to Chelsea's ever-growing popularity," said Yokohama chief executive officer and chairman Tadanobu Nagumo.
"We look forward to launching our iconic new Chelsea Yokohama shirt this summer."
Chelsea, who play Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup final on Wembley, are the most watched Premier League team on television globally, with over 31,000 broadcast hours -- and more than 500 million fans, according to the west London club.
"Chelsea and Yokohama are a perfect fit. Both are global organizations with a focus on performance and innovation, as well as having huge ambition and an unwavering culture of success" said Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck.
"We believe that Yokohama will play a key role in helping us drive our global expansion in international markets such as the U.S. where they have operated with distinction for many years."
The sponsorship deal with Yokohama is being widely credited as a success for Christian Purslow, who was appointed to run Chelsea's global commercial activities in October -- as well as providing a likely treasure trove for the club's manager Jose Mourinho to dip into during the summer transfer months.
The announcement follows a 36% rise in shirt sponsorship income for English Premier League clubs on the 2013/14 season -- with European clubs getting $777m from sponsors in a bid to get their brand on some of the world's biggest clubs' kits.
Whilst the Middle East is a burgeoning sponsor in Europe -- United Arab Emirates and Qatar based companies spent $181m this season -- it's a Japanese brand that's now scored a deal with Chelsea.
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