Microsoft becomes Wembley Stadium sponsor

Blue screen, green turf tie-up

Microsoft has announced a deal to becomes Wembley Stadium’s first founding partner. The deal - reportedly worth £5m over five years - comes with an agreement by Wembley National Stadium Ltd to take on the software giant as a technology partner.

Hardware vendors such as HP and Sun have been heavily involved in sponsoring motor racing and other sports. IT vendors regularly become shirt vendors of UK premiership teams. By contrast Microsoft has seldom got involved in sport up till now apart from a sponsorship of the British Olympic Association. "The deal is fairly unusual," a Microsoft spokesman told El Reg. "But as well as serving as a premier sports stadium Wembley will also act as a music venue and serve as a national icon. It will be a real landmark."

"This is not a branding deal - although there will be some signage on the turnstyles. What Microsoft gets out of the agreement is the right to hold one event at the stadium per year and a box for corporate hospitality."

Microsoft also gets the right to associate its name with Wembley. Since the stadium closed for redevelopment in 2000 a string of financial and political problems have delayed its redevelopment. Any unwelcome associations between this and Redmond's frequent difficulties in getting its software delivered on time were obviously not enough to queer the deal.

The new Wembley, which will seat 90,000, and is promised to boast state-of-the-art facilities, is due to open next year. It will employ 5,000 and is at the heart of a major regeneration program for the London Borough of Brent called Vision 2020. The stadium will host a range of sporting, musical and live events, including The FA Cup Final, The Football League Cup Final, The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final, major music concerts. It will also be the home of the England football team.

Wembley Stadium currently has two Official Suppliers to the stadium: npower, the official energy supplier; and Betfred, Wembley Stadium’s official bookmaker. Under the deal with npower, Wembley will become the first major UK stadium to be supplied by 'green' (renewable) energy. ®

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