Emirates has been the front-of-shirt partner for the Qatar Sports Investments-owned club since 2006 but the deal has become an uncomfortable fit since the UAE joined three other Gulf states in imposing a trade and travel embargo on Qatar last year, accusing the country of supporting terrorism.
Value also appears to be a sticking point. According to a L’Equipe report, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi wanted as much as €80 million (US$93 million) per year for the club’s new shirt sponsorship agreement, a demand that Emirates were not willing to meet.
However, when asked whether Qatar Airways would consider replacing the UAE airline, the company’s chief executive Akbar al-Baker told La Tribune: “Yes. I’m sure we would be interested if the opportunity presented itself.”
While he was aware of the issue of valuation that appears to have priced out Emirates, he added that “it is a problem that we can obviously negotiate.” Emirates currently pays between €25 million (US$29 million) and €30 million (US$35 million) annually to sponsor the Ligue 1 champions.
Qatar Airways has long been touted as a potential replacement, although a deal with the airline could arouse suspicion with Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, given the club’s ownership ties to the Gulf nation.
This is especially pertinent with PSG’s economic dealings currently under the microscope of Financial Fair Play (FFP) as a result of Der Spiegel’s Football Leaks documents.
PSG were accused of overvaluing sponsorship deals to help meet FFP rules, which require clubs to balance spending with their revenue.
The reports also claim that the club negotiated with the president of world soccer’s governing body, Gianni Infantino, who was then general secretary of Uefa, to agree reduced punishments for FFP breaches.
Meanwhile, Emirates has been linked with a move to PSG’s domestic rivals Marseille, whose shirt sponsorship agreement with Orange also expires at the end of the 2018/19 season.
On the field, however, PSG have a thus far unblemished domestic record, having won all 13 Ligue 1 games this season, leaving the star-studded Paris outfit 13 points clear of nearest challengers Lille.