In 2008, Manchester City were taken owned by an Abu Dhabi-based investment group, and since then, the club has seen a period of unprecedented growth. Etihad has sponsored the Premier League side since 2009, two years after the airline headquartered in the United Arab Emirates signed a 10-year deal that includes the name rights to the club's stadium and surrounding camps.
It was Etihad's own cash that provided the sponsorship funding. There is nothing unusual about airlines sponsoring sports teams and venues. Interestingly, last week's FA Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool and Manchester City had a little flaw in the Sky Blues' uniform.
Instead of putting the FA Cup logo on their sleeves, they left it blank. This was most certainly not an error or a blunder on the part of the club, but something they have been doing in the FA Cup for years.
Why Manchester City didn't wear Emirates FA Cup badge
In honor of their sponsorship, Emirates have rebranded the tournament as the 'Emirates FA Cup'. The Emirates emblem is featured prominently on the logo and sleeve patch.
Meanwhile, Etihad Airways, which is based in the United Arab Emirates, is Manchester City's primary sponsor on their jerseys. While Emirates, a UAE-based airline, is the FA Cup's official sponsor, the competition is played in London.
Having the logos of both Mercedes and BMW, or Coca-Cola and Pepsi on the same shirt is akin to wearing both airlines' logos on one uniform. Advertising space with a competitor from the same business is something that no brand would like to be associated with.
The Emirates FA Cup sleeve patch hasn't been used by the Citizens for some seasons now. It seems that the club has been granted permission to do so since they would otherwise be endorsing a competing brand.
Not the first time for Manchester City to avoid Emirates links
In 2019, the Sky Blues sported a customized version of their sponsor logo that showed the slogan 'Choose Etihad' on the back of the shirt. For all we know, Emirates may have been the target of this sly dig. It was interesting to note that Manchester City's jersey sponsor, Etihad Airways, was replaced with a unique "Choose Etihad" emblem before the game began.
As the FA Cup is sponsored by Emirates, it's often speculated that the name is a sly jab at Emirates, which is a competing airline. Manchester City had previously been granted special clearance to remove the Emirates FA Cup sleeve insignia off their jerseys because they saw it as endorsing a competitor.