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CHELSEA have announced a three-year sponsorship deal with Emirates airlines that will be worth £24 million to the West London club.

The Dubai-based airline will replace the Blues current sponsors, Autoglass, at the end of this season, which will be the second biggest sponsorship deal in The Premiership.

Click here for our earlier story revealing the deal

It is second only to Manchester United's deal with Vodafone, which is estimated to be worth £35 million.

Chelsea chairman Ken Bates revealed that the new funds would be reinvested in the club's training ground and youth academy.

"We gelled straight away, as soon as talks started," said Bates.

"It's a dream come true. It is an agreement that will have immense benefits for both parties. We are delighted.

"The deal illustrates how Chelsea are among the clubs with whom prospective sponsors want to be associated. It is worth more than the sponsorship agreements of Arsenal and Leeds."

The contract will also see the Stamford Bridge club provide expert coaching for young players in Dubai.

The investment is a further boost for Chelsea, who unveiled a new 10-year deal with kit manufacturers Umbro earlier in the week, that will bring in up to £40 million.

Meanwhile The Blues are again being linked with a move for Middlesbrough defender Gianluca Festa.

The 31-year-old Italian remains on the transfer list after a fall-out with Boro boss Bryan Robson in November despite figuring prominently in the team's eight game unbeaten run since the arrival of head coach Terry Venables on Teesside.

With French star Frank Leboeuf poised to leave the club for Monaco, Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri will need to sign a new central defender and he could view Festa as an ideal replacement having coached him at Cagliari.


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