Manchester United are searching for a new shirt sponsor with Chevrolet highly unlikely to renew their deal while the club struggle on the field.
The American car manufacturer signed a staggering £410million agreement in 2012, when Sir Alex Ferguson was at the helm and United were consistently challenging for top honours.
The seven-year deal came into play in 2014.
In the time United have displayed the Chevrolet brand on their shirts, they have failed to win the Premier League title and come nowhere near lifting the Champions League.
Now, with the club two points above the relegation zone under struggling manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the fallen giants look further than ever from challenging again at the highest level.
Industry sources say that bosses at General Motors (GM), of which Chevrolet is a division, have been thoroughly unimpressed with United’s performance over the duration of the deal, which expires at the end of next season.
However, there is also a belief that the deal was never going to be renewed.
One insider said: ‘It was doomed from the start. The feeling within was that Chevrolet had massively overpaid and it was never going to get done again.’
Indeed, the man who agreed the deal, global marketing chief Joel Ewanick, was axed less than 48 hours after it was announced.
At the time, it was reported that GM executives were furious when they learned their company would be paying substantially more than United’s last sponsor Aon. It was also claimed Ewanick failed to give his bosses full details of the agreement before signing off on it, although the man himself later described the deal as a ‘no-brainer’.
Figures seen by Sportsmail show the agreement with Chevrolet, which has brought in around £58.6m per season, dwarfs those the club had previously agreed.
Aon (2010-14) paid £19.6m a season, AIG (2006-10) £14.1m and Vodafone (2000-2006) £8m.
It is understood that United have already begun their search for a new sponsor and club insiders say they have had expressions of interest from a number of leading brands.
Despite their stuttering performances on the field, officials are confident in the strength of the brand and believe United’s red shirt remains attractive to potential partners, given their global following and the overall popularity of the Premier League.
United claimed recently that their following across the world had reached 1.1billion and executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has vowed that sponsorship revenue will be key to the size of their transfer fund.
A United spokesperson said: ‘Chevrolet is a fantastic partner. The sponsorship continues to achieve the brand and business objectives for both parties and we will continue to work to activate and maximise it.’