Football: Chelsea sign huge shirt deal with Japanese firm

LONDON (REUTERS) - Premier League leaders and Capital One Cup finalists Chelsea agreed "one of the biggest shirt sponsorships ever signed" with the Yokohama Rubber Company on Thursday.

Financial details were undisclosed but media reports said the deal was worth almost 40 million pounds (S$80 million) a year.

The tyre manufacturer will have its name on the front of Chelsea's shirts for five years starting next season.

The agreement brings to an end the Stamford Bridge club's 10-year partnership with Samsung Electronics.

"We believe Yokohama will play a key role in helping us drive our global expansion in international markets such as the US where they have operated with distinction for many years," club chairman Bruce Buck said in a news release.

"Also, of course, Chelsea having such an esteemed and historic Japanese company as our partner enables us to accelerate our development in their home market too."

Yokohama Rubber chief executive Tadanobu Nagumo flew in from Japan to appear in a photo-shoot with Buck, captain John Terry and manager Jose Mourinho on Thursday.

"This shirt partnership will give Yokohama an opportunity to showcase our company to a huge worldwide audience thanks to Chelsea's ever-growing popularity," said Nagumo.

"We see our partnership as an integral part of our global expansion plans."

According to the news release Chelsea were the most-watched Premier League team on worldwide television last season with more than 31,000 broadcast hours.

The London club are chasing silverware on three fronts this season.

They are five points clear at the top of the Premier League, meet Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One (League) Cup final at Wembley on Sunday and host Paris St Germain in a Champions League last 16 return match next month having drawn the first leg 1-1 in France.

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