Romanian carmaker Dacia, owned by France's Renault, is the new shirt sponsor of Italian Seria A side Udinese, Romanian media reported on December 22.
The deal, a break-through for a company from South-East Europe in one of the continent's top three leagues, comes despite the recent trouble Dacia has experienced - forced to shut down production in November and then again in December because of slumping sales, while also asking for state guarantees on a loan of 100 million euro.
But its sales in Europe continued growing stronly in the first nine months of the year, recording an increase of 38.1 per cent in a market that shrunk by 4.4 per cent, broadcaster Realitatea TV reported.
"This contract is an important opportunity for us, expanding the reach of our brand through a very strong league. It is an opportunity to raise the profile of the Dacia brand on the Iatlian market, to make known a young brand that has scored important commercial success," the broadcaster quoted Renault Italia communication director, Andrea Baracco, as saying.
Bought by Renault in 2000 as the future assembly site for its no-frills Logan model that the French carmaker was developing, Dacia has been a major success for Renault since 2004. Although Logan was originally developed as a car for the emerging markets, it has proven successful in Western Europe as well, even if it is far from competing with the leading models in the budget segment.
Udinese currently lie 12th in the Serie A table, collecting only two points from their last eight matches. Their first match with the new shirt sponsor was a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of AC Milan.
The sponsorship, whose financial details have not been disclosed, will also raise Dacia's profile across the continent, with Udinese reaching the first knockout stage of the Uefa Cup, where it will play Polish side Lech.