A dozen ‘hackney carriage’ taxis painted in the black-and-gold livery of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways will become familiar sights in Manchester, the city in northwest England that was the home of the industrial revolution.
Etihad Airways unveiled its sponsorship of the 12 taxis at English Premier League football team Manchester City F.C.’s City of Manchester stadium (also known as ‘Eastlands’), with the club’s mascots “Moonchester” and “Moonbeam” on hand. (The anthem of Manchester City’s supporters, which thousands of fans sing at every game the team plays at its home ground Eastlands, is the song ‘Blue Moon’, hence the mascots’ names.)
The Abu Dhabi airline recently began a three-year deal to be the official shirt sponsor and partner of Manchester City F.C. and the taxi sponsorship is the latest initiative to build awareness of Etihad Airways in the Manchester area.
“We are delighted to have these eye-catching, Etihad-sponsored taxis on the road in Manchester. The black and gold branding makes the taxis stand out and is a novel way to build our brand profile across the city,” says Clive Wratten, Etihad Airways’ UK country manager.
Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and is based in the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi. Etihad offers flights to more than 50 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.
On September 2 Etihad Airways launched nonstop service from Abu Dhabi to Chicago, its third North American destination after New York JFK and Toronto. With the launch of its Chicago service, Etihad Airways began a codeshare agreement with American Airlines.
The airline’s shirt sponsorship of Manchester City F.C. began in the summer of 2009, following the September 1, 2008 purchase of the club by Abu Dhabi-based Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited for a reported £200 million from UK Sports Investments Limited. UKSIL was controlled by Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand.
The buy-out by the Abu Dhabi company, which is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family and the Minister of Presidential Affairs for the UAE, reputedly immediately made Manchester City the richest professional soccer club in the world.
For the 2008-2009 season, Abu Dhabi United Group allowed Manchester City’s team manager Mark Hughes to buy the contracts of Brazilian star Robinho from Real Madrid; Chelsea and England star Shaun Wright-Phillips (who had started his career and become a crowd favorite at Manchester City before going to the London club); England defender Wayne Bridge (also from Chelsea); and Belgian star midfielder Vincent Kompany from the German Bundesliga Ein team Hamburger SV.
During the 2008-2009 season Manchester City also bought the contracts of Wales striker and national-team captain Craig Bellamy from West Ham; Dutch international midfielder Nigel de Jong, who like Kompany had previously played for Hamburger SV; and Ireland’s national-team goalkeeper Shay Given (thought by many to be one of the top five goalkeepers in the world) from Newcastle United.
Then, in preparation for the current 2009-10 English Premier League football season, Manchester City’s new owners made more than £100 million available to the club to bring in a variety of additional, world-class players during the summer.
They include Argentinean forward Carlos Tevez, who had played for Manchester City’s bitter (and highly successful) rivals Manchester United for the past two seasons; Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor, whose contract was bought from storied London team Arsenal; England international midfield player Gareth Barry, from Aston Villa; Ivory Coast-born defender Kolo Touré, also from Arsenal; Paraguayan star striker Roque Santa Cruz, from Blackburn Rovers; and England defender Joleon Lescott, from Everton.
The team also picked up veteran Brazilian defender Sylvinho, who had previously played for Real Madrid; and English goalkeeper Stuart Taylor, formerly with Aston Villa.