Premier League referees whistle up new sponsorship deal

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The new referees' kit
Image caption,
Referees will start wearing the new kits this season

Air Asia-owner Tune Group is to take over from its airline subsidiary as sponsor of the top referees grouping in England from this season.

The "seven figure-deal" will run for three years from season 2010-11, and install Tune as partner for Professional Games Match Officials.

The PGMO was formed in 2001 and it referees matches in Premier League, Football League and FA competitions.

Malaysian-based Tune also has a stake in Formula 1 team Lotus.

Brand awareness

Tune's portfolio also includes the ASEAN Basketball League, low-cost long-haul airline Air Asia X, and Tune Hotels - which is set to open its first European outlet in London soon.

Mike Riley, general manager of PGMO, said he hoped the partnership would be as positive as the Air Asia tie-up, which "resulted in significant investment in the training and development of officials at all levels of the game".

Meanwhile Tune hopes to increase brand awareness by its connection with "English football's three billion viewers globally".

The deal gives Tune Group access to 2,000 professional football matches.

Promotional rights include Tune being given shirt sleeve and training wear branding on all professional match referees, assistant referees and fourth officials

There will be other branding opportunities, including a presence on the football governing bodies' websites.

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