February 28, 2013 6:02 am

Old Trafford Test ground to be renamed

Emirates, the fast-growing airline, is to increase its cricket sponsorship by renaming Old Trafford, one of England’s oldest Test grounds.

Lancashire’s headquarters is to be named Emirates Old Trafford and the team’s Friends Life t20 playing kits to carry the Emirates logo. The 10-year deal, for an undisclosed sum, comes into immediate effect.

It is a further coup for cricket after a period in the early 2000s when some counties and even the England team struggled to find shirt sponsors.

Emirates already sponsors the Durham Dynamos, including the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground, one of a new crop of rivals that has forced Old Trafford to spend £47m on a revamp to ensure it can continue to host Test cricket, including this year’s Ashes against Australia.

It is competing with Test grounds with sponsors such as the Kia Oval and Headingley Carnegie and newer venues such as the Swalec stadium in Cardiff and Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

Old Trafford boosted its temporary capacity up to 25,000 and extended its conference facilities.

Lancashire announced a record loss for a county cricket club of almost £4m for 2011, because of redevelopment costs, but hopes to return to profit in 2013, with turnover hitting about £20m.

Emirates also sponsors the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, where the 2014 Commonwealth Games will take place, and Arsenal football club and its Emirates stadium.

Etihad, its Gulf rival, has sponsored Manchester City’s shirts and stadium.

The move reflects the growing wealth of cricket-hungry India and the popularity of its 20-over format.

Sir Maurice Flanagan, Emirates executive vice-chairman, said cricket had a “global reach”. “This association also highlights our continued investment in Manchester and the surrounding region, a hub which we see as vital to our operations in the UK and from which we operate three daily flights, including one of our flagship A380s.

“Cricket at Lancashire county cricket club is of the highest quality, it has a global reach and has produced legends in the sport and we are proud to be lending our name to such incredible success.”

The county won the championship outright in 2011 for the first time since 1934.

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