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Nike to end Manchester United relationship

ESPN staff
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Nike will stop producing Manchester United shirts after this upcoming season.

Sources say that the world's largest shoe and apparel maker told the club on Tuesday that it was bowing out of negotiations to pay for the privilege to make the kit, refusing to match the number put forth by rival Adidas.

Sources with knowledge of the deal say that the contract provides for a guarantee of around £60 million a year for 10 years, which is the highest deal in all of sports and doubles that of the second highest deal in soccer. Adidas is paying Real Madrid roughly £30m a year for the rights to make their kit through the 2020 season.

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"Manchester United is a great club with passionate fans," Nike spokesman Nigel Powell said in a statement. "We are proud to have partnered with them for the last 12 years and will continue to sponsor the club until the end of the 2014-15 season.

"Any partnership with a club or federation has to be mutually beneficial and the terms that were on offer for a renewed contract did not represent good value for Nike's shareholders. We look forward to a successful final season with the club."

Nike, which had been making the kit for the team since 2002 and was most recently paying about £25m a year on the deal, recently announced that football revenue for the company was up 21% to £1.3 billion in the last fiscal year.

From July 2013 to March 2014, the publicly traded Manchester United pulled in £28m in retail, merchandising, apparel and product licensing revenue.

On Monday, Nike unveiled the new home kit with a new sponsor logo. Chevrolet are paying just short of £50m a year for seven seasons for the partnership.

An Adidas spokesman declined to comment on the Manchester United developments.

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