Manchester City will rename Eastlands as the Etihad Stadium after signing a deal worth 'several hundred million pounds' with the club's sponsors.
The City of Manchester Stadium – the Blues' ground since 2003 – will be renamed with immediate effect.
The 10-year agreement, with Etihad Airways, is the most expensive football sponsorship deal ever and includes naming rights to the stadium and surrounding redevelopment campus which is set to include a new training ground for the Blues.
The deal was signed today by Manchester City CEO, Garry Cook, and James Hogan, CEO of Etihad Airways, before the the Blues' first team squad departed on a pre-season tour of the United States.
The club said the newly-named Etihad Stadium would form the 'centrepiece' of an Etihad Campus including City Square and a large part of the adjacent Sportcity site.
Up to two million visitors are expected a year following City's qualification for the Champions League.
The club and their sponsors will also expand co-operation on business, hospitality and media projects, including increased MCFC content and match coverage included in Etihad's in-flight entertainment.
They will also partner on youth and community projects both locally, throughout Britain and internationally.
The club will shortly launch a public consultation on a new youth training and football development complex at Eastlands, they said today.
City's CEO, Garry Cook, said: "We are delighted to be expanding our relationship with Etihad Airways through this comprehensive partnership agreement. Most importantly, in addition to delivering significant revenue at a key stage in the Club's evolution, the agreement creates exciting opportunities for our two organisations to cooperate more deeply commercially and on media and community initiatives in the future."
James Hogan, CEO of Etihad Airways, said: “This is a game-changing partnership agreement that redefines the traditional sports sponsorship paradigm. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for two iconic brands that share the same vision to promote far-reaching global awareness and business growth.
“Etihad's work with MCFC has already yielded a significant return on our investment and we are thrilled to build on our relationship. Their well-established name and loyal fan base have allowed us to tap into a new and increasing global audience. In addition to being a sensible alignment for our brand from a business perspective, it is also one that we can get very excited about, especially at a time when MCFC's winning attitude is bringing increased success for the team on the national and international stage."
The M.E.N. revealed in March that Blues officials had struck a deal with town hall bosses to sell the rights to the council-owned stadium, built for the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and nicknamed Eastlands by fans.
The club moved there from Maine Road in 2003, signing a 250-year agreement which saw a percentage of match-day income paid into the town hall coffers.
City and the council reached a new agreement last year which sees the town hall receive a set amount, regardless of attendances at the 47,500 capacity stadium. It is understood the council will also benefit from the naming rights deal.
Council leader, Sir Richard Leese, said: "The relationship between Etihad Airways and Manchester City Football Club further supports Manchester’s international profile and global connectivity and the city’s ability to attract leading brands to invest and create job opportunities. It is great news for Manchester, reinforcing our sporting, transport and economic growth priorities and is particularly welcome news for east Manchester.”
Charles Johnston, Property Director at Sport England, added: "This announcement is positive for grassroots sport and people in Manchester. The re-negotiated stadium agreement will generate further investment in community sport and sports facilities in the local area.”
City are not the first Premier League club to sell naming rights to their stadium.
Arsenal sold the rights to their ground to the Emirates airline, Etihad’s main rival, in 2006. The Gunners netted £100m in a 15-year deal which also included shirt sponsorship.
But the Blues' Etihad deal is understood to dwarf that, standing at 'several hundred million pounds' over the ten years, officials said.
The cash injection will provide a major boost for the Blues, as they look to comply with Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules. They stipulate clubs must not post aggregate losses of more than £40.5m over the following three-year period.
City are at the heart of plans to transform land around the east Manchester stadium into a global sporting capital.
It could see world-class facilities change the lives of people in one of Britain’s most deprived neighbourhoods, in the shadow of the ground.
Community football pitches will be built on the 80 acres in Openshaw West bought by City’s Abu Dhabi owners last year – alongside a training complex for the club’s professional players. A bridge is expected to connect the site to the stadium.
National teams for sports including basketball and taekwondo could join the all-conquering cycling squad under plans to turn Alan Turing Way into a ‘corridor of Olympians’.
There are also plans for a cluster of new sporting facilities at Grey Mare Lane, including a new swimming pool.