Manchester United
After a slow start when first going public, Manchester United has rebounded to become the most valuable sports team in the world. Wikipedia

The English Premier League champion, Manchester United (NYSE:MANU), signed its first commercial deal in Russia, agreeing to make Aeroflot (AFLT:RTS) the club's official carrier.

The club’s previous deal with Turkish Airlines has expired after three years. Aeroflot’s chief executive, Vitaly Saveliev, while not disclosing the value of the deal, said it was “expensive."

United’s managing director, Richard Arnold, said the club had 18 million followers in Russia and wanted to explore the market further.

United has built a number of impressive global partners as it looks to cash in on its reputation. It now has around a dozen partners that get exclusive rights in their region.

Aeroflot traditionally sponsor Russian sports clubs and events, such as CSKA Moscow and the Sochi Olympics.

Saveliev said: “We are long-standing proud supporters of Russian sport and it’s a significant step for our first global partnership to be with one of the most successful and well-loved football clubs in the world.”

Aeroflot will now charter flights for the Lancashire club when appropriate. The Russian company’s public relations department cited its good safety record and young age of its fleet.

Manchester will now embark on one of its biggest pre-season tours, as it looks to build fan bases and sponsorship deals in the Asia/Oceania region. They will play friendlies in Bangkok, Sydney, Yokohama, Osaka and Hong Kong, before playing AIK in Stockholm just ahead of the Community Shield game against Wigan Athletic at Wembley on Aug. 11.