Aon Plays $80 Milllion Sponsorship Ball

Will sponsor world's most famous soccer club

The Chicago-based Aon insurance company - whose name is now on what used to be called the Amoco building and whose founder is Pat Ryan, the mayor's pal who is leading the Chicago Olympic effort - has landed what the Wall Street Journal calls "the big kahuna of sports sponsorships."

And that doesn't mean the coming of the Aon Cubs at Aon Field.

In an $80 million deal that is among the most lucrative in sports history, Aon's name will be emblazoned on the jerseys of the legendary Manchester United soccer team beginning in 2010.

Manchester United is sort of like Europe's New York Yankees.

"Recession or not placing a global brand on the front of either Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal makes all the sense in the world," says. "You couldn’t buy the advertising with United games being shown in highlights week after week and considering six million United jerseys were sold last year alone that is like six million walking billboards for your product."

Man U's outgoing sponsor is the troubled AIG. Because next season's jersey's have already been made, AIG will get one more year before Aon bumps them aside.

Ryan, the chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016, retired from Aon last year. He is stepping down this month from the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees at Northwestern University, where he stirred controversy when he bought the naming rights to what used to be called Dyche Stadium for $8 million. He renamed it after himself.

The current president and CEO of Aon is Gregory Case, who came aboard "after Aon agreed to pay $190 million to settle an investigation by the attorneys general in New York, Illinois and Connecticut into anti-competitive business practices."

So a perfect fit for Man U.

Meanwhile, the soccer club of Chicago "sister city" Birmingham is sponsored by F & C Investments - and doing us proud.

Chicago truly is the world.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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