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English Premier League

World-leading Chinese electric car giant BYD Auto banks on Arsenal’s millions of fans to help it build a ‘greener future’

The Premier League club joins forces with Shenzhen-based BYD Auto to encourage environmentally friendly behaviour across its legion of followers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, 4:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2018, 10:15am

Chinese electric car giant BYD Auto has bet on Arsenal’s millions of followers to help it build its global presence and ensure a “greener future”.

The pair have announced a new deal for BYD [Build Your Dreams] to become the English Premier League club’s official car and bus partner as the Shenzhen-based company looks to extend its reach, with Arsenal’s pre-season tour to Shanghai and Beijing the catalyst behind the move.

The Warren Buffett-backed BYD is the world’s largest electric vehicle maker and employs more than 220,000 people across five continents.

The deal comes as European clubs clamber to increase their presence in the mainland, with Paris Saint-Germain recently announcing a partnership with LGD Gaming, China’s most popular e-sports team.

Manchester United continue to accumulate partners, while Liverpool are opening an academy in Kunming.

Southampton will tour the mainland this summer as their Chinese owner formulates plans to open football schools across the country while Arsenal are no stranger to Chinese deals: BNN Technology is the club’s official lottery partner in the country. 

“This partnership shows that BYD, the Arsenal Football Club and its global fan base believe in a greener future and the deal will help us build our name here in China and around the world,” said Sherry Li, BYD’s brand and public relations director.

“Arsenal is a club steeped in history and is one of the most popular football clubs among fans in China.”

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The club claims to have 63 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and 4.7 million on China’s Sina Weibo, while the Premier League’s broadcast deal encompasses 212 territories and 643 million homes, giving the Gunners a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people.  

BYD, which has factories in the United States and Europe, will have access to the club’s social media reach and will appear on pitchside LED boards and on the back of the dugout seats at matches played at the Emirates Stadium. The first boards appeared at the weekend’s win over West Ham United.

“We are hoping we can promote everything they’re doing around a greener future and encourage more people to use and consume their products,” said Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s chief commercial officer.

“This partnership represents another move towards improving our contribution to environmental sustainability, something both ourselves and BYD are passionate about.

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“It’s how we can help them in their key strategic markets, markets like the US and the UK, where they are really looking to build their awareness.

“BYD are very, very well known in China but I’d probably say less well-known outside of China, so one of the key success criteria will be how we can help them build their awareness and their understanding of their business outside of China.”

The club has called the move a further step forward following its work to power Emirates Stadium and all other Arsenal sites with 100 per cent renewable energy.

“This is a really significant deal for us, we’ve not signed a partnership quite like this before,” Venkatesham said. “I think people are more interested than they ever have been around the impact they are having on the environment.

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“As well as helping us think about how we can make our business more sustainable, they are obviously very strong in China and that is a key market for us, so we hope we can get exposed to new audiences through the great reach that BYD have.”

BYD will also have access to Arsenal legends to run fan events and coaching clinics in China, with Venkatesham saying the specifics of the deal will be ironed out in the next couple of months.