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by Ryan Hudson

The Manchester United football club has dumped it's old shirt sponsor, AIG, and reached an agreement with Aon to be the new company on the front of their kits. The deal is worth a reported $131.2 million over four years, and it's something that could soon be coming to our (more awesome) brand of American football.

Darren Rovell, sports business extraordinaire, is reporting that with the NFL allowing "teams to sell sponsorship patches on their practice jerseys," it's soon to happen: "No one has forged a deal yet, but we're hearing a couple teams are close."

How much these patches are worth is hard to figure out. They can't be larger than 3 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches and certainly have a limited audience since preseason games aren't counted as practice.

The biggest benefit likely will come from local television stations that don't have rights to game footage and therefore have to roll practice video over and over again on their newscasts when talking about the team.

Texans president Jamey Rootes told the AP yesterday that a company that signs up for a patch deal would likely have a larger relationship with the team.

This of course comes just days after the Phoenix Mercury and the company LifeLock entered into a partnership, meaning the WNBA franchise will wear the LifeLock logo on their uniforms. While it's easy to write-off pretty much everything the WNBA does, this move may be different. As David Whitley of FanHouse points out, this is clearly a test run for the league's big brother, the NBA.
"This deal serves as a blueprint for other associations of its kind with all our WNBA teams," Stern said.

If all goes well it's easy to imagine Stern getting up in a few years and dropping only one letter from that statement

The W.

Today the Phoenix Mercury. Tomorrow the Phoenix Suns?

And I doubt it would stop there. Assuming this works for the Mercury, it won't be long until other teams and leagues are adopting the same idea. If you're a small-market baseball team with struggling attendance, why wouldn't you try this? The Washington Nationals Presented by Geico may not be far off.

Manchester United signs up Aon as shirt sponsor - USA Today
NFL Teams Selling Space On Practice Jerseys - Darren Rovell, Sports Biz
Mercury, LifeLock Break New Ground with Partnership - Phoenix Mercury
Stern's Latest WNBA Hail Mary: Be Afraid - David Whitley, FanHouse