Another rugby crazy airline chief

With Harlequins and Manchester City both in pole position in the England’s rugby and football premierships, Etihad Airways’ sports sponsorship investments look to be very prudent.

While Manchester City, owned by an Abu Dhabi-based oil magnate, was already rising to prominence and is a natural fit with the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, the reasons behind the decision to sponsor Harlequins appear less clear cut.


Struggling in the premiership until this season, when they finished first on points heading into the play-off deciders, only a true rugby aficionado could have understood their potential for success and the coverage that would bring.

With big sponsorship decisions usually made at boardroom level in large companies, has the hand of Etihad’s chief executive James Hogan, a renowned rugby enthusiast, played a part in the airline’s sports marketing strategy?

His comment that “the partnership with Harlequins has provided Etihad with an impressive platform to connect with customers in the UK”, after an extension to the Harlequins contract was signed, suggests it might well have been.

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