The Malta Independent 20 October 2019, Sunday

Mizzi again insists agreement details with Manchester United are commercially sensitive

Monday, 7 October 2019, 19:06 Last update: about 12 days ago

Minister for Tourism, Konrad Mizzi, again insisted that the details of the agreement made between the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) and Manchester United are commercial, and for this reason cannot be revealed. 

The Minister was replying to a parliamentary question made by PN Deputy Leader, Robert Arrigo, who noted that the agreement between the MTA and Manchester was funded by former. For this reason, he asked that Mizzi provide details of the amount of the agreement, the length of the agreement and what the Minister thinks Malta will benefit. 

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Earlier last month, Malta became the official destination partner for world-famous football club Manchester United, as part of an agreement which the Minister said will run for three years. The financials of the deal were previously requested by journalists, but both the government and Manchester United had kept their lips firmly sealed.

In a lengthy reply, Mizzi said the MTA has been working over the last few years to develop marketing and touristic activities which are more "varied". The aim of this is to stimulate new tourism of quality. 

He also added that Manchester United club is a popular sports team with more than 1.1 billion followers, and a television audience of 3.5 billion annually. The global strength of this brand was considered one of the crucial factors of this commercial agreement, Mizzi noted.

It will see the Maltese government gain sponsorship rights to advertise the logo Visit Malta on several stations, including advertising at Old Trafford the Manchester United stadium, in the games they play home in. It will also feature in the club's printed media, digital platforms, social media, official television stations, direct marketing, as well as other events happening around the world.

Collaboration with such a strong brand should bring about a lot of additional benefits, especially in terms of visibility and better recognition for Visit Malta, Mizzi added.

Malta's credibility will also be enhanced, not just in the UK and other traditional markets, but also in less traditional markets, like the US, Japan, South Korea, Middle East, South America, and the strong fan base Manchester United has around the world. 

Whilst assuring Arrigo that this contract, given by the Malta Tourism Authority, is related to activities of a tourist nature, Mizzi went on to say "I inform him that the information asked for is commercial and for this reason cannot be given."

The Malta Independent has previously reported that several sources speaking to this newspaper had suggested the three-year deal, signed by Tourism Minister, comes with a price tag of €7 million.

Mizzi, on his part, insisted at the signing ceremony on Friday that the reason the price tag is not being disclosed is that it is 'commercially sensitive due to global relevance'.

Follow-up questions sent to Manchester United were met with a similar wall of silence, with a club spokesperson telling The Malta Independent on Sunday: "Please note that we don't discuss financial details of our partnerships."

The silence is curious considering the government will eventually have to report the cost of the transaction in its accounts, and the fact that since Manchester United is a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, the cost of the deal will also eventually be made public on its balance sheet.

Through the deal, Malta has become the club's official destination partner and promotions began appearing immediately on Manchester United's website right after pen had been put to paper in Manchester.

Visit Malta advertisements were being displayed on the Old Trafford hoardings just a few days following the announcement when they met Leicester City FC.



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